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Full text of "Narrative of riots at Alton : in connection with the death of Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy"

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District of Ohio. 

/3 3 f 7&*Z 


Three months ago, a manuscript copy 
of the following narrative was prepared for 
publication, mailed at Jacksonville, Illinois, 
and directed to New- York, to be there 
printed. It never arrived at the place of its 
destination, and must either have been lost 
or otherwise disposed of. This explains the 
delay in the publication of the Narrative. 

The publisher is aware that it would 
have been received with more avidity, if it 
had been issued immediately after the tran- 
saction to which it refers ; but he feels con- 
fident, that the plan of the work, and the 
train of thought pursued by its author, will 
^sustain its claim, independently of the in- 
terest growing out of merely transient or 



local excitements, to the serious attention 
of an intelligent public. Facts are herein 
detailed, which have not heen hitherto 
developed; and the general views taken 
of the anti-slavery discussion, and its gen- 
eral hearings on the moral interests of the 
world, are striking, and in many respects 



Page 32, 14th line from the bottom, (or, "I could yesterday," read, " Jf I 


Page 33, 3d line from the top, for, " the nature and," read, ""nature and the." 
Pace 30, 3d line from the bottom, for, " will siill t rust," rend, " will still treat." 
Page 41 10th line from the bottom, for, " national." read, " rational." 
Paire 43, loth Imp from the bottom, for, " all its members, read, "any ofitt 



40. 2d line from tlio top, for, " then" road, " there." 

00, Jiith line from the top, for, " sound," toad, "sncred." 



IT often happens that events, in themselves of 
no great importance, -are invested with unusual in- 
terest in consequence of their connection with prin- 
ciples of universal application, or with momentous 
results. Of this kind are the events which preced- 
ed and led to the death of the Rev. Elijah P. Love- 
joy : the first martyr in America to the great prin- 
ciples of the freedom of speech and of the press. 

Of these events I propose in the following pages 
to give an account. The facts are of a nature suf- 
ficiently astounding in any age, or at any time. 
The destruction of four printing presses in succes- 
sion; the personal abuse of the editor, from time to 
time by repeated mobs; and his final and premedi- 
tated murder ! 

Still more astounding are they when we consider 
the country in which they occurred. Had it been 
in revolutionary France; or in England, agitated 
by the consequent convulsion of the nations; there 
had been less cause for surprise. But it was not. 
It was in America the land of free discussion and 
equal rights. 

A 2 S 


Still more are we amazed when we consider the 
subjects, the discussion of which was thus forcibly 
arrested. Had it been an effort to debauch and 
pollute the public mind by obscenity and atheism; 
or by injurious and disorganising schemes; the rise 
of public indignation had at least found a cause; 
though the friends of truth and righteousness are 
not the men who employ mobs as their chosen in- 
struments of persuasion. But it was none of these. 
It was solely the advocacy of the principles of free- 
dom and equal rights. 

Were these principles of recent origin, and the 
opinions of a sect, it might have caused less sur- 
prise. But they are the sacred legacy of ages : 
the doctrines of our nation's birth; of natural jus- 
tice; and of God. 

All these things are astonishing : but there is one 
fact that may justly excite amazement still more 
deep and overwhelming ; the opinions and feelings 
elicited by events like these. Had an earthquake 
of indignation convulsed the land; had the united 
voices of every individual of every party rebuked 
and remedied the wrong; all had been well. But 
during the progress of the scenes there have been 
found those in reputation as wise and good, who 
have been unsparing in their censure on the sufferers; 
and stimulated the evil doers by sympathy or feeble 
rebuke. And after the final and dreadful catastro- 
phe, only a faint tribute has been given by them 
to certain abstract principles of free inquiry as gen- 
erally good; and a decent regret for their violation 
has been expressed. But the full tide of indigna- 


tion has been reserved for the audacious man, who 
dared to speak and act as a freeman ; and though 
lawlessly inflicted, his penalty has been declared to 
be deserved. 

What are we to say of facts like these ? They 
at least open a deep chapter in human nature, and 
in the condition of our country. They are the re- 
sult of principles neither superficial nor accidental. 
They penetrate to the very vitals of society; and 
indicate a crisis in our national life. 

That as a nation we are radically unsound and 
lost, they do not to my mind indicate. But that 
there are in the body politic causes of tremendous 
power, tending to that result, they do evince. And 
the question on which all turns, is now before us as 
a nation; and on its decision, our life or death de- 
pends. Have we coolness of thought left sufficient 
to discern them, and energy of moral feeling enough 
to react ? 

As these events are of a nature to rouse and de- 
mand public attention, I hope that an impartial nar- 
ration of them will be candidly and thoughtfully 
read : and as I have been an actor in the leading 
events from the beginning an eye witness of most 
that I describe; I feel that no one who speaks only 
from hearsay, can have so full a knowledge of all 
the causes of these events as I; and as perhaps no 
one has been more severely censured by enemies, 
or regarded in greater error by some sincere and 
valued friends; I feel that not only a regard to truth 
and the general good, but decent regard to the opin- 
ions of others, requires me to speak. 


It is an event which will be known extensively, 
and on which a judgment will be formed by the ci- 
vilized world. And in the correctness of that judg- 
ment the highest interests of humanity are involv- 
ed. In it, too, the welfare of this state and nation 
are vitally involved. In one portion of the body 
politic soundness is gone, the laws have given 
way, the tremendous reign of anarchy has begun, 
and our only hope for their final restoration to their 
wonted majesty and power is in the restorative 
energies of that portion of the body politic which 
remains yet uncorrupted. 

The question may be considered in two lights : 

1. As one of civil rights. 

2. As one of moral rights. 

The first relates to what the laws of the land al- 
low each citizen to do ; and in doing which they 
guaranty him defense. The other relates to those 
duties the performance of which no human laws 
can enforce ; but which arise from the obligations 
resting on every man to use his civil rights wisely 
and benevolently, from a regard to God and the 
general good. So far as a claim to civil defense is 
concerned, nothing is essential except that a man 
violate no civil right : and in deciding whether it is 
a duty to give such defense no community has a 
right to agitate any other question. 

If a man's civil rights are safe only so long as he 
uses them wisely and prudently, we ought so to be 
informed in our constitutions : and, still more, we 


ought to have a civil standard of wisdom and pru- 
dence, enacted by law ; and courts and judges to 
try men for imprudence and indiscretion. For if 
men are to maintain their rights only on such 
grounds, and there is to be no standard but 
the opinions of a mob, may God in his mercy 
evermore deliver me and my children from such 
rights and such freedom. 

There is no tyranny on earth so execrable as the 
tyranny of a mob. But indeed the whole idea is 
ridiculous in the extreme that the question of wis- 
dom or prudence is to be raised at all, before a 
prompt defense of rights. It is foreign to the whole 
genius of our nation. As long as a citizen violates no 
law, and stands solely on the ground of civil rights, 
he is to be defended to the uttermost. Nor does 
crime vacate rights. Even the vilest criminal has 
a right to a fair and impartial trial ; and if con- 
demned, it must be only by law. 

It was because I wished to judge of the sound- 
ness of the nation on this point, that I have as yet 
made no effort to correct the false views so indus- 
triously circulated by those who wish to palliate 
the atrocity of these deeds. These all tend solely 
to one point : that Mr. Lovejoy and his friends 
were not wise and prudent ; and that on them the 
whole responsibility rests. And I was anxious to 
see if the manly sense of the nation was still so 
unclouded as to detect the base subterfuge ; and 
their moral sense sufficiently sound to abhor it. To 
a very cheering extent I have not been disappoin- 
ted on this point. The majority of the nation still 


seems to be sound j and with manly indignation 
has repelled the loathsome and guilty excuse. Still 
this is not true of all. 

There are still those who, if their principles were 
to prevail, and their feelings infect the nation, would 
soon plunge us in an ocean of anarchy and blood. 
And as a citizen of the free states I blush that they 
have furnished the greatest share of such. Alas, 
that freemen will sell their principles for popular 
favor, or for gold. But it is time, now, that the 
events of Alton, should be tried by another stand- 
ard ; that, on the part of the friends of good order 
there may be no needless concessions or reserve ; 
and that the last pretexts of enemies may be taken 

By the standard of wisdom, benevolence and 
prudence, then, let these events be tried ; and I care 
not how high that standard may be. Not that I 
arrogate to Mr. Lovejoy, or to his friends, entire ex- 
ception from error in scenes so trying. But I do 
mean that a correct standard of judgment on those 
points is one of the last things which they have to 
fear. Indeed, had not the standard of the com- 
munity been unusually low, such events could not 
have transpired : and it was following a better 
standard that excited their wrath. On nrmy minds, 
I know that the impression is deep and strong that 
we were urged on by a blind impulse, next to infatu- 
ation, heated by excitement, and without deliberate 
thought. Indeed to many, any action on the sub- 
ject of slavery that is designed to remove it, is 
synonymous with infatuation and insanity. Let all 


such know, that every step taken was the result of 
long and patient thought ; and of principles fixed 
in our coolest hours. 

To evince that such was the fact ; and to enable 
the public to know what our principles are, and to 
judge of our actions by them ; I propose to con- 
sider what are the principles of wisdom, prudence 
and benevolence in such a case : to narrate the 
events as they transpired : and to try our actions, 
and those of our opposers, by this test. 


What then are the true principles in this case t 
As this is a practical question, involving great and 
all pervading consequences, it is of great moment 
that our principles of judgment be sound ; as an 
error here must vitiate all our results. Happily for 
us, we have an unerring standard near at hand ; 
and with this let us begin. " The fear of the Lord 
is the beginning of wisdom, and to depart from evil 
that is understanding." From this we infer 

1. That we are first of all to use all possible 
means to ascertain the purposes of God, as regards 
the age and nation in which we live ; and so lay 
our plans that they may coincide with his designs : 
" For there is no eounsel or knowledge or device 
against the Lord. His counsel will stand and he 


will do all his pleasure." And if we regard not 
the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his 
hands, he will destroy us and not build us up." 

2. Never hope finally to avert a discussion of 
the great fundamental principles of human society, 
which is called for by the course of God's provi- 
dence and the movements of the age. 

3. Let the movements of God*s providence de- 
cide as to the time of the discussion. That is, Do 
not seek prematurely to accelerate it ; and do not 
try to avert it when great events urge it upon us. 

4. Employ the time allowed by Providence in 
studying the subject, and the structure of human 
society ; thus preparing wisely to meet the discus- 
sion when it comes. 

5. Let no errors or imprudencies, real or sup- 
posed, of the advocates of truth, indispose the 
mind to receive it on its own evidence : and let no 
amount of popular prejudice, and no fear of person- 
al sacrifice deter us from following out our own 
convictions of duty, in the fear of God. 

The soundness of the principles thus stated none 
can deny. Nor can it be denied that, in a world 
opposed to God these ought at all times, and popu- 
lar opinion never, to be our standard of wisdom in 
the formation of our plans. As it regards their ex- 
ecution we are bound to regard the laws of holiness 
and of the human mind. Hence, 

6. Let all discussions of truth be conducted under 
a vivid sense of the presence of God : and so con- 
ducted as to time, manner and proportion, that they 
may tend to diffuse a spirit of holiness throughout 


the community ; and decidedly and boldly to rebiiko 
every form of sin. 

7. Avoid giving needless occasions of irritation, 
excitement, and lawless violence. 

8. Aim to diifuse kind feelings throughout the 
community ; and especially to strengthen the bonds 
of union among good men. 

9. If, however, after all your efforts to promote 
holiness and union, any portion of community will 
cleave to error and sin, you are bound not to re- 
nounce truth, duty and God, to prevent division 
however painful, or evil feelings however great, or 
deeds of violence however atrocious. On them rests 
the responsibility who forsake God and the truth, 
and not on you. For this reason were Jesus and 
his disciples guiltless, though divisions and death 
followed in their train. Indeed, in a corrupt state 
of society, eminent holiness and nearness to God are 
so far from rendering divisions and excitements 
improbable, that unless the community itself will 
reform, they render them certain. 

In deciding, therefore, on the wisdom of any 
course of conduct, we are to view it in all its rela- 
tions ; and not test it by a few hackneyed topics 
of popular prudence. A community deeply in- 
volved in the commission of evil loves neither dis- 
turbance, repentance, nor rebuke. Their language 
is, Let us alone. And any exhibition of the truth, 
however well meant, which reaches the conscience 
will cause bitterness and reaction. The truth on 
this point has been so admirably and pointedly ex- 
pressed by the departed Evarts, that I cannot for- 


bear to quote his words. In the Panoplist, vol. 16, 
p. 245, after a candid examination of the laws of 
Virginia, prohibiting the instruction of the blacks, 
he thus concludes : 

" It is impossible for an enlightened conscience 
to doubt that the slaveholders of Virginia, taken as 
a body, are < fighting against God.' There are, we 
trust, numerous exceptions to this daring hostility. 
It cannot be doubted, however, what will be the 
issue of the contest. The many millions of the 
blacks hereafter to live on our continent will not be 
always debarred from reading the bible, nor will 
Africans be always forbidden to preach the gospel." 

Noble rebuke ! and yet uttered in the spirit of 
love and godly fear. And what was the result ? 
On p. 488, we find that it had caused a great fer- 
ment at the south, and brought on him severe cen- 
sure. Hear him now in reply. 

With respect to the ferment which the article in 
our June number produced, we can only say, that 
to excite passion or provoke opposition was far 
from our object. But our southern friends must be 
aware that the simple fact of the existence of irrita- 
tion is by no means conclusive evidence that there 
is just occasion for it. We could easily illustrate 
this position by a reference to scriptural history. It 
is indeed an indisputable truth, that no great abuse 
can be removed without producing a great deal of 
irritation. Look at the monstrous abuses practised 
by the Romish church ; and at the exposure of 
them in England, Germany, and Scotland. These 
abuses were acknowledged by the advocates of that 


church, and it was only contended that they should 
be attacked mildly and gently, that they might be 
gradually and silently corrected. But if the reform- 
ers had yielded to these representations ; if Luther 
had written against popery in such a manner as not 
to offend the most bigoted and interested of the po . 
pish clergy, what would have become of the refor- 
mation ? 

"The southern people are now unanimous in con- 
demning the slave trade ; but when this trade was 
first attacked, the intrepid assailants were vilified 
as a set of miserable drivellers, who under the cant 
of religion and humanity, were willing to put dag- 
gers into the hands of all the negroes in the West 
Indies : who, instead of benefiting the blacks either 
in Africa or the islands, would injure them all: 
who would in fact produce by their measures, if 
Parliament should adopt them, nothing but revolt, 
insurrection, burning and massacre in all the colo- 
nies. Never was there more irritation on any sub- 
ject, than prevailed in respect to the abolition of the 
slave trade among all slave holders in the British 

That there has been a great ferment and much 
irritation in consequence of the discussion of slavery 
in this state ; and that it has resulted in outrages 
of unparalleled atrocity, no one needs to be inform- 
ed. But it by no means follows that it was through 
the negligence or indiscretion of the friends of the 
truth ; or that all possible efforts were not made 
which a sense of duty would allow, to conciliate 



opponents and prevent such results. Let the facts 
of the case then be calmly considered, and tested by 
the principles already laid down. 

And that the scope and reasons of my remarks 
may be the more clearly appreciated, I would ob- 
serve that I shall construct my narration with ref- 
erence to a great variety of charges against the 
members of the convention at Alton as a body, and 
myself and Mr. Lovejoy in particular. The fact 
that I have been publicly, severely, and pointedly at- 
tacked ; accused of Jesuitism, fanatical zeal, derelic- 
tion of official duty, and treasonable designs, must be 
be my apology for any reference to myself which a 
vindication of my course shall render it necessary 
to make. I shall make no reference to individual 
assailants j. and still entertain the kindest feelings 
for all by whom I have been thus charged ; and 
hope that they will at length see and candidly ac 
knowledge their error. 


The first point that merits our attention is, the 
origin of the discussion on the subject of slavery in 
this state. This is not to be ascribed to any indi- 
vidual effort, but to the gradual movements of the 
providence of God in the present age. The causes 
which have conspired to make this a topic of in- 
tense interest to the Christian world are, the aboli- 


tion of the slave trade throughout the civilized 
world ; and of slavery in Hayti, the West Indies; 
South America, Mexico, and elsewhere, and the 
discussions connected with these events ; the free 
principles of our own constitutions ; their influence 
on the world ; and the reaction of that influence on 
us. These causes gave rise to an animated discus- 
sion of the subject in the eastern free states, and to 
a great reaction and excitement at the south ; and 
thus attention was aroused to the subject through- 
out the Union. In this state there was an original 
leaven of anti-slavery principles in its earliest set- 
tlement, and preceding the discussions at the east : 
and the influence of this added to that of papers 
from the east, awakened an extensive interest in 
the subject over the whole state. The result of 
these causes a wise man could easily foresee, but 
not avert. The great current of human destiny 
bore this subject onward as one of the great practi- 
cal questions of the age. On it the intellect of the 
civilized world was aroused; and to it the Spirit of 
God gave a resistless course. To suppress discus- 
sion was impossible. As well might you forbid the 
day-spring from on high to know his place, or the 
splendors of the approaching sun to dissipate the 
shades of night. To prevent discussion I made no 
effort, satisfied that it would be vain; and that, if 
possible, it was not to be desired. On this subject 
as a nation we must act or suffer. If in season we 
learn and do our duty, we shall escape the judg- 
ments of God. If not, the hour of retribution is 
hastening on. 

B 2 


Free social discussion, and an expression of opin- 
ion in ecclesiastical bodies, were for a time deemed 
sufficient. But the tide of feeling continued so to 
rise, that some more effectual mode of influencing 
the public mind was demanded. The establish- 
ment of the St. Louis Observer, under the editorial 
care of Mr. Lovejoy, in part met this demand. I 
say, in part, for though he manifested decided op- 
position to slavery, yet his views were considered 
erroneous on the subject of immediate emancipa- 
tion. It here deserves notice that, although decid- 
edly opposed to the peculiar views of the abolition- 
ists, yet he was driven from St. Louis by a mob, 
because he insisted on the duty of making efforts 
gradually to abolish the system of slavery. It was 
strenuously insisted on, that he should let the sub- 
ject entirely alone. He then removed his paper to 
Alton. His press on landing was left on the wharf, 
it being Sunday, and was afterwards destroyed by 
a few individuals. This outrage was strongly rep- 
robated in a subsequent meeting of citizens; and 
resolutions passed to sustain the laws, ferret out the 
offenders, and reimburse his loss. 

When the paper was re-established in this state, 
it was not his design to give so much room to the 
subject of slavery as he had in Missouri; and he so 
stated in the meeting. At the same time he ex- 
pressly refused to give any pledge on the subject, 
but openly stated that he reserved to himself the 
right to publish whatever he might choose, on any 
change of views. Such a change gradually took 
place, the causes of which were th^so ; as stated to 


me by himself: A careful investigation of the 
subject from a deep sense of his own responsibility; 
a discovery of the atrocious misrepresentations of 
the views of the abolitionists which were universal- 
ly and diligently circulated, and to which he had 
once given credence; a clear conviction of the un 
worthy and sordid motives of the most violent op- 
posers; a discovery that the party of moderate men 
had no plan for doing any thing, and that they did 
nothing but hinder all who desired to act; and a 
distinct perception of its fatal influence on the 
church, especially as illustrated in the proceedings 
of recent General Assemblies. This change in his 
own feelings led him to fee.1 the importance of giv- 
ing more prominence to the subject in his paper, 
and at the same time the demand for a thorough 
discussion of it became more urgent among a large 
portion of his subscribers. 

It has sometimes been said, but very gratuitous- 
ly, that he was the means of getting up the excite- 
ment in this state. The truth is, if he had opposed 
it with all his power he could not have stopped the 
movement; but it would have swept him and his 
paper away. Of his change of views he deemed 
it his duty to make a statement to Mr. W. S. Oil- 
man, who had with his partner, given him efficient 
assistance in re-establishing his paper after the press 
had been destroyed. He felt under no obligation, he 
informed me, to the citizens at large, because they 
had not fulfilled the pledge which they had given 
him of reimbursing him for the loss of his property, 
and had given him no aid in re-establishing his 


paper; and because he had publicly refused to come 
under any pledge to them. He was advised by Mr. 
Gilman to follow the dictates of his own judgment, 
which he accordingly did. 


WE now approach a point of great importance 
in its relations to the final result; the proposal to 
call a convention to form a state Antislavery Socie- 
ty. Of this measure, too, Mr. Lovejoy is regarded 
as the author and prime mover: and he is supposed 
to have urged it on without consideration and with- 
out judgment. The truth is, it was urged on his 
attention by others, in different parts of the state; 
and was by him from time to time delayed. At 
last, on being again requested to bring up the sub- 
ject, he concluded to mention it in his paper, and 
ask for an expression of public sentiment. The 
response was decided; and it became clear that 
there was a general and strong desire that a con- 
vention should be held. This state of feeling is in 
part to be ascribed to the natural progress of inte- 
rest and thought; in part to the impression produced 
on many by the violent proceedings of the General 
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1837, and 
the belief that such unjust measures had been intro- 
duced into the church to defend slavery; and in part 
to the agitation of the Texas question. The pro- 


posal of such a convention at once aroused the hos- 
tility of the enemies of his sentiments, and laid a 
foundation for all the disastrous results which have 
followed. A meeting of citizens was soon called 
at the market-house, in which resolutions were 
passed charging on Mr. Lovejoy the violation of a 
pledge, and censuring him for his course. A com- 
mittee was also appointed to wait on him, with an 
implied assumption, that the meeting claimed the 
power to regulate his course as editor. This claim 
he felt it his duty to deny and resist ; while at the 
same time, to remove all reasonable grounds of 
objection, he published a clear, candid, and unan- 
swerable statement of his views. To expose the 
unsoundness of his principles no attempt was made; 
and that, for the best of all possible reasons a des- 
pair of success. A most disgraceful and incendiary 
paragraph also appeared in a paper in St. Louis, 
urging the inhabitants of Alton to eject Mr. Love- 
joy from among them as a fomenter of divisions 
and an enemy to the public good. Having failed 
to intimidate, and having no resource in argument, 
they began to mature their plans for the application 
of force. 

At this time I received a letter from Mr. Lovejoy, 
urging on me the importance of giving a prayerful 
attention to the subject ; and of aiding to give a 
right direction to public feeling in this state; and 
requesting me, if consistent with my sense of duty, 
to give my name to the call for a convention. I had 
up to this time not participated at all in the public 
discussion which was so deeply exciting the nation, 


but had been merely an attentive and thoughtful 
spectator. Such was the magnitude of the subject, 
and such the consequences involved in its proper 
management, that, until the providence of God 
should make it my duty I was glad to retire from 
the conflict, and spend my time in preparing for the 
hour, should it ever arrive, in which duty would 
allow me to be silent no longer. My views, when 
I came to this state, were decidedly hostile to the 
doctrines of immediate emancipation; and it was 
not until the year 1835 that I became satisfied, from 
a careful examination of the history of experiments 
on this subject, that the doctrine of gradual eman- 
cipation was fallacious, and that of immediate eman- 
cipation was philosophical and safe. From that time 
I felt it to be a matter of immense importance that 
measures should be taken, kindly but thoroughly, 
to convince the slave states of the fact, and to urge 
the claims of duty. Still, however, considering the 
magnitude and importance of the subject; and the 
interest, ignorance and prejudice to be encountered, 
I felt that more was to be hoped from deep and 
thorough discussions in a cool and dispassionate 
style, than from popular appeals and excitement. 
At the same time I was dissatisfied with the spirit 
of much which had been written on the subject; 
and with the disposition so common, of pushing true 
principles to an extreme. On the whole I decidedly 
preferred to stand on my own ground to join no 
society and to speak as an individual, if I spoke 
at all. In reply to Mr. Lovejoy, I stated these 
facts; and added that I would join no society, un- 


less they would assume such grounds as I could ap- 
prove. In reply, he requested a full statement of 
all my views, which I freely gave him. 

Meanwhile the plans of the friends of mob-law had 
been matured, the office of the Observer assailed, and 
the press destroyed. It was known beforehand 
that such an attack was contemplated ; and a decided 
public sentiment in favor of maintaining the law at 
all hazards might easily have prevented it : for the 
perpetrators were then timid ; habit and success had 
not given them confidence. No such public senti- 
ment, however, existed ; and many felt even of 
those deemed wise and good that though the pros- 
tration of the law was a great evil, the publication 
of the Observer was one still greater : to such a 
degree had prejudice and a false view of their own 
local interests blinded their minds. They seemed 
to regard it as a less evil to have their city be- 
come the abode of mob law than the theatre of a 
fair discussion of an unpopular theme. Prepara- 
tions had also been made to defend the office by 
arms ; but as there was a hesitation in regard to 
the propriety of using arms in such a case, when 
the office was assailed not a gun was fired ; but it 
was abandoned to its fate. 

Decided efforts were immediately made by the 
friends of Mr. Lovejoy to replace the press, and to 
enlist the friends of religion and good order in an 
effort to maintain the ground. But, to such a de- 
gree were the churches paralyzed, the effort was 
unavailing. A press however was procured by 
the friends of the paper at Alton and Quincy, and 


a consultation was held in Alton to decide what 
should be done. It was at this time that Mr. 
Lovejoy sent in a communication offering to resign 
his place as editor, if in their judgment the in- 
terests of the paper and the public good could be 
promoted thereby. His offer, however, was not 
accepted, and the whole subject was deferred for 
future discussion and decision. 

Shortly after this Mr. Lovejoy visited Jackson- 
ville to attend the commencement of Illinois Col- 
lege ; and spent a considerable portion of his time 
in my family. As a number of clergymen and lay- 
men from different parts of the state were assem- 
bled, it was deemed expedient to consult on the 
measures best adapted to the present crisis. An 
unanimous opinion was expressed that, in order to 
maintain the principles of free discussion, it was of 
great importance that the paper should be again 
established at Alton, under Mr. Lovejoy as its edi- 
tor. I suggested to Mr. Lovejoy the expediency 
of so far changing the character of the convention, 
that the friends of free discussion who were not in 
favor of forming an anti-slavery society could at- 
tend ; and also suggested that if a society were 
formed it should be called the society of inquiry 
on the subject of slavery. My motives were two- 
fold. I felt that it would be calamitous to have a pro- 
posed meeting of citizens broken up for fear of vio- 
lence ; and at the same time I wished to remove 
all real or unreal causes of irritation. I thought 
also, that an invitation to the friends of free inqui- 
ry to attend a perfectly uncommitted meeting, would 


tend to produce an influence which should restore 
the supremacy of law in Alton, deliver the state 
from its present disgrace, and remove the influence 
of so pestilential an example in the commercial 
capital of this portion of the state. Though op- 
posed to his own feelings, he yielded to my wishes 
except as it regarded the name ; and this plan was 
also approved by the meeting. 

On these grounds, and intent solely on the effort 
to prevent further violence and to restore the lost 
character of so important a place I allowed my 
name to be used in calling the convention. The 
call was accordingly issued inviting the friends of 
free inquiry to meet and consult what course it was 
best to take on the subject of slavery, and stating, 
that by coming together they did not commit them- 
selves to any course of measures. Fearing however 
the intrusion of the enemies of free discussion to de- 
feat the meeting, he limited the call to such as be- 
lieve the system of American slavery to be sinful, 
and that it ought immediately to be abandoned. 

Before the issuing of the call another press had 
been landed and destroyed. Without deciding 
where to establish it, Mr. Lovejoy sent on immedi- 
ately for another : though it was at this time his 
prevailing opinion that it was advisable to locate it 

On seeing the call I was disappointed at finding 
it limited in such a manner, as it was inconsistent 
with my design of inducing those who were deemed 
judicious and moderate men, and who did not wish 
to be set down as partisans, from attending. I ac- 


cordingly went to Alton and stated to him my 
views. He gave me his reason for the limitation 
and seemed fully convinced of its necessity. How 
correct was his judgment subsequent events will 
show. I, however, did not think that men who had 
already destroyed two .presses would dare to claim 
a seat among the friends of free inquiry, and was 
anxious that the invitation should be enlarged. I 
also proposed the plan of not forming an organiza- 
tion at all; but of appointing committees of inquiry, 
and assigning to them subjects to investigate and 
report at a future meeting. I also urged the 
plan of calling the organization, if it should be form- 
ed, the society of inquiry. To all this, after consul- 
ting with his friends, he finally assented, solely for 
the sake of preventing division, by laying a ground 
of union so broad that all good men might act to- 
gether. I then requested that a meeting for consul- 
tation, composed of some of the leading citizens of 
Alton, of various denominations might be called, to 
whom I stated these plans for their advice. I en- 
deavored to lay open to them the evils of division 
among good men, and how such division leads to 
acts of popular violence. One portion of good men 
feeling it to be their duty to urge on an unpopular 
work of reformation ; another portion, and that the 
majority, standing aloof and frowning on them as 
fanatical and imprudent, and thus emboldening the 
wicked in their deeds of violence. I stated what 
concessions Mr. Lovejoy and his friends were will- 
ing to make, and urged upon them the importance 
of countenancing the meeting by their presence, and 


of inducing their friends to attend; that thus the 
partisans of violence might be rebuked by the united 
voice of the wise and the good. A vote was then 
passed approving these views; and expressing the 
opinion that the invitation should be extended to 
all the friends of free inquiry on the subject of sla- 
very. I accordingly published in the Alton Tele- 
graph .a communication stating my origin al views 
in signing the call, and that I and some others of 
the signers, and a number of leading gentlemen in 
this place were desirous of having the invitation 
comprehend all the friends of free inquiry on the 
subject of. slavery. I did not assume the power to 
control the wishes of the majority of the signers but 
to express my own: and did not doubt that all can- 
did and well disposed persons would be readily ad- 
mitted. I then endeavored by letters and person- 
al influence to induce intelligent and influential 
men to attend and make an effort to prevent disunion 
and restore the majesty of violated law. I also 
made an effort at the meeting of the synod of Il- 
linois to obtain a unanimous expression of opinion 
against the outrages at Alton, and in favor of the 
right of free discussion. In this I failed ; a few op- 
posing the resolutions as it seemed to me on ac- 
count of the state of parties* in the church. The 
reason alleged by the leading speaker was, that it 
tended to unite church and state ! How simply 
affirming the principle that every citizen and body 
of men had a right to be protected by law in ex- 

* Not Theological parties solely. 


pressing their opinions, tended to unite church and 
state, I could not see : but as I was ashamed to 
have such resolutions pass by a divided vote, with- 
drew them, though they could have been passed by 
a decided majority. Still, in a meeting for con- 
sultation I advised all who could, to attend; and ex- 
pressed my firm belief that no violence need be ap- 
prehended, as I had no doubt the leading citizens 
of Alton would countenance the meeting by their 


With such cheering expectations I commenced 
my journey to Alton; little thinking how soon they 
were to be disappointed, and that from a quarter I 
had little anticipated. At Carlinville, where I spent 
the night, I heard from a passenger in the stage 
from Alton that a meeting of the Colonization So- 
ciety had just been held in Upper Alton; and on 
inquiry as to the tenor of the speeches, found that 
many things had been said tending to excite preju- 
dice and odium against the friends of immediate 
emancipation. I at once anticipated the result and 
felt sad. 

On my arrival at Alton, I entered the house in 
which the convention was assembled and found a 
tumultuous speaker claiming seats for himself and 
friends, as the patrons of free inquiry on the subject 


of slavery; and none of those citizens of Alton on 
whom I had mainly relied to aid in an effort to unite 
good men and sustain the majesty of the law, were 
there. I was also informed that some of the indi- 
viduals thus claiming seats had already, by aiding 
or abetting the destruction of the press of the Ob- 
server illustrated their views of free inquiry, and 
signalized their valor in its defence. At all events, 
many of their party gave notable displays of it not 
long after; one of them being the reputed murder- 
er of Mr. Lovejoy, and another having on the night 
of the murder presented a pistol towards Mr. W. S. 
Oilman and called on him to surrender the press to 
the mob. However, of the character of those per- 
sons I was at the time ignorant. 

Mr. Lovejoy soon informed me that they were 
claiming seats on the ground of my notice in the 
Alton Telegraph, and that he had objected to their 
admission on the ground that they had come in to 
interrupt the meeting and thwart its designs, and 
not to maintain the cause of free inquiry. At this 
they were highly indignant as men of high honor, 
and conscious of the integrity of their purpose. 

I immediately disclaimed all right to overrule the 
will of the majority of the signers, by my invita- 
tion ; and stated that there was no regular way of 
organizing the convention but by first .enrolling 
those who could respond to the original call ; and 
that they could then admit whomsoever they pleas- 
ed as the friends of free inquiry. 

On this they immediately put in requisition their 
powers of interpretation to see if they could not 


respond to the call. It became a matter of much 
moment to know what the immediate abolition 
of slavery implied. Dr. Blackburn who was in 
the chair, gave a statement of his views and I 
of mine. One of the leaders of the " friends "of 
free inquiry," professed his full assent to these 
views, and so did some others. Another, however, 
by his critical skill, discovered that he was invited 
in the call, because the friends of free inquiry were 
invited, and the fact that the invitation was after- 
wards limited to those who were in favor of the 
immediate abolition of slavery seemed to him no 
impediment, though he confessed that he was not 
of that class. The "friends of free inquiry" 
being thus divided in the grounds which they 
should assume, it was voted to adjourn till the next 

After the close of the meeting a leader of the 
te friends of free inquiry" went out and mounted 
the wood pile near the corner of the house and 
delivered an address to his followers. He inveigh- 
ed bitterly against the abolitionists for denying to 
them the rights of free inquiry, and brought up 
various topics of an inflammatory kind which pro- 
fligate editors had proclaimed abroad against the 
abolitionists. Their hearts, if they had any, were 
cold, and they were bound to their country by no 
common ties. He also commenced a tirade against 
the benevolent operations of the day, including 
the temperance society, till luckily it occurred to 
him that he had recently joined it himself, and had 
made a public address in its behalf : he then re- 


tracted his charges to the no small amusement of 
his audience. He then charged them not to fear 
the abolitionists ; and to be on the spot by nine 
o'clock the next morning, and to bring their friends 
with them. Meanwhile those who had come from 
abroad to attend the convention concluded, in or- 
der to take away all pretext for violence, to or- 
ganize on the original call, and then to open the 
discussion to all the friends of free inquiry, and to 
treat all who professed to be such as sincere. 

On the next morning the chairman proceeded to 
organize the convention on the call by reading it, 
and stating that all who could respond to it would 
be entered as members of the convention. By 
this time the tumultuous friends of free inquiry had 
got rid of all their scruples and responded unani- 
mously to the call, on what grounds they best can 
decide. If they were in favor of the immediate 
abolition of slavery, why make such a tumult be- 
cause Mr. Lovejoy taught the doctrine ? If not, 
why, by responding to the call, profess that they 
were ? Such, however, are the facts ; and their 
names are on record and before the world as re- 
spondents to the call. The vote to admit all friends 
of free inquiry, of which we had thought, be- 
came useless. The trustees of the church, how- 
ever, sent in a paper stating that we could not 
retain the house unless the convention was open- 
ed to free discussion to all who wished. To this 
we of course assented. The convention then pro- 
ceeded to the election of officers. Dr. Blackburn 
was the candidate of the real members of the con- 


vention, for president, and Dr. Hope of the " friends 
of free inquiry." Dr. Blackburn was elected by a 
considerable majority. Rev. F. W. Graves and W. 
Carr were chosen secretaries. A committee to re- 
port business was appointed consisting of one friend 
of free inquiry and two of the regular conven- 

As the friend of free inquiry had publicly declar- 
ed his accordance with the sentiments of the presi- 
dent and myself, on the subject of immediate abol- 
ition, I had good reason to expect that we might lay 
before the convention a declaration of sentiments 
to that amount. I found, however, that he was de- 
termined to report a series of resolutions of direct- 
ly the opposite tenor. When one of the committee 
expressed his surprise at this, and reminded him 
that yesterday he professed that he could agree to 
the doctrine of immediate emancipation as publicly 
stated, he replied, " If I could yesterday, I can't to- 
day." The majority then made a report involving 
the same principles which were stated the day be- 
fore, and the minority a counter report. The friends 
of free inquiry then voted to take up the minority's 
report as the subject of discussion, and to exclude 
the other. One resolution was accordingly discus- 
sed in committee of the whole, the import of which 
was, that, as by human laws slave-holders had a 
right to property in man, and as the constitution of 
the United States declares that no man's property 
shall be taken from him, without compensation, 
therefore the slave-holding states have no right to 
abolish slavery. The advocates of this resolution 


Were answered by Messrs. Beecher, Gait and Per- 
kins. Their positions were shown to be contrary 
to nature and the immutable distinction between 
right and wrong, against the law of God, and the 
opinions and actual practice of many of the states. 
It soon became plain that it was easier to pass votes 
by a majority than to defend them by argument; 
and the "friends of free inquiry" became weary of 
their work. It was moved that the committee rise 
and report : which was done, and the resolution 
adopted. It was then moved to adopt the rest en 
masse. I at once inquired if it was to be without 
discussion. Many voices replied, " Yes, without 
discussion." I repeated the question with the 
same result. I then requested the president to put 
the motion in this form, " Resolved that we adopt 
the remaining resolutions without discussion," which 
he did; and in that form the "friends of free inqui- 
ry" passed it; and then voted to adjourn sine die. 
Thus passed one day : and at its close I felt a great 

During all these exciting scenes the real members 
of the convention had conducted with the utmost 
coolness, kindness and self-possession. Some just 
indignation was at first manifested at the attempts 
of the "friends of free inquiry" to intrude; but it 
soon passed away. Nor did I regret that I had 
made the effort; for it had proved at least one thing 
to a demonstration: that neither Mr. Lovejoy nor 
his friends were obstinate, self-willed and uncom- 
promising. What concessions could be required 
which they were not willing to make except to 


give up finally and forever all freedom of speech or 
inquiry, and submit to the dictation of the mob ? 
To unite good men they had offered to give up the 
name of their society; to put off its organization; 
and to commit the whole subject to committees to 
report hereafter. But all would not do. Still they 
must be held up to odium in a meeting of good 
men, designated by a religious editor as uneasy and 
restless spirits, and given up to the tender mercies 
of a mob. To be associated, even for a time, with 
men who could act as did this gang of friends of 
free inquiry, would have seemed to me degrading 
if I had not felt that my soul disavowed all fellow- 
ship with such proceedings. What then shall we 
say of those men who wish to be deemed respecta- 
ble, and of that professed minister of Christ, who 
acted with them and gave them no rebuke ? What 
shall we say of religious editors who record their 
proceedings with manifest pleasure, as an expres- 
sion of sentiments honorable to the citizens of Alton 
Of course the whole plan of appointing commit- 
tees was dropped. Those who had assembled for 
high and holy purposes were united among them- 
selves; and the rest had finished their discussion, 
and dispersed. Not feeling it safe to hold a public 
meeting on that evening, for fear of the friends of 
free inquiry, they assembled in private houses for 
prayer, and spent the evening in asking counsel of 
God; a part in upper Alton and a part in the city. 



Two important questions were now to be decid- 
ed. What course to take. First, as it regards or- 
ganizing a state society ; and, Second, as it regards 
the re-establishment of the Alton Observer. 

On the first point, it was evident that all offers 
of compromise and co-operation were fruitless. 
Those who were satisfied with the plans of the 
Colonization Society as the only effectual means of 
removing slavery, would of course reject our views 
entirely, and pronounce all discussion of the subject 
of immediate emancipation useless. And the pre- 
judices excited against us by religious men would 
of course have double weight in the minds of the 
worldly and vicious portions of the community. So 
that our only alternative was to organize on such 
principles as we were able to agree in among our- 
selves ; or to disperse. To take the latter step it 
seemed to us would be giving a complete triumph 
to the mob; and be pestilent in its influence, by in- 
viting and emboldening them to take a similar course 
all over the state should we ever meet again. It 
also seemed to us adapted to depress the spirit and 
diminish the courage of all the friends of freedom 
throughout the state. Though the plan of deferring 
an organization and appointing committees to re- 
port was brought up, yet it was almost unanimous- 
ly rejected. And, as to the name, it seemed pretty 
clear by this time, that the thing aimed at was the 


real cause of offence, and that to change the name 
would do no good. It was therefore deemed best 
to meet the next day and organize a new conven- 
tion; which was accordingly done. In this it was 
unanimously resolved, that it is expedient at this 
time to organize the Illinois state Anti-Slavery 

It was proposed that the convention meet in the 
church, as before ; but threats of popular violence 
induced them to prefer a private house. They ac- 
cordingly met in the house of Rev. T. B. Hurlbut. 
It having been noised abroad that these measures 
were contemplated, " the friends of free inquiry" 
came up and claimed admission. On this being re- 
fused, their leader threatened to break open the 
door, and to use personal violence upon Mr. Hurl- 
but if he came out: and this in open day. By this 
time, however, the police of Upper Alton were 
aroused ; and they took effectual measures to clear 
their streets of the mob : and from that time good 
order was preserved. 

My preference still was to stand on my own 
ground as an individual, that I might be held res- 
ponsible for no sentiments, or measures, but my 
own. I also knew that by joining an unpopular 
and despised minority, occasion would be given 
through me to assail and injure the institution over 
which I preside. As to mere personal popularity, 
it was a smaller matter, especially among such 
friends of free inquiry as I had lately seen. I felt 
that it was against the praise of such that our 
Savior had warned his followers in his emphatic 


denunciation of woe on us, when all men speak 
well of us. Still, related as I was to a public liter- 
ary institution, I felt that my conduct involved 
more interests than my own. One consideration, 
however, overruled all else. I saw a deliberate ef- 
fort to render odious and crush a pious and intelli- 
gent assemblage of my fellow-citizens, who, so far as 
I could see, had done no wrong but to dare to think 
for themselves on a great moral question ; and as 
freemen to exercise their inestimable rights, in a 
way expressly provided for by the constitution: 
that is, in a peaceful assembly for prayer and con- 
sultation. And although I had not come expect- 
ing to organize a state anti-slavery society; but to 
take measures to secure a kind and peaceful dis- 
cussion of the subject of slavery; yet, as all these 
plans had been broken up ; and as the Colonization 
Society had been introduced as the means of doing 
it; (for that it was, I am informed was definitely 
avowed by its leading mover;) and as the purpose 
was avowed of establishing branches of that 
society throughout the state; and as I supposed 
they would all partake of the spirit of the present 
movement; I was compelled to relinquish my fond- 
ly cherished hopes of Christian union, and to decide 
in view of facts, as they were. And, in this view, 
I could not long hesitate. I felt it to be my impe- 
rious and solemn duty to associate myself with 
the injured and oppressed; and to exert whatever 
of influence I could exert, in maintaining their 
rights. Had I done otherwise, I should in fact, 
whatever my intentions had been, have been con? 


sidered by the patrons of mob law, as willing to 
abandon the objects of their malignant hatred to their 
fate. I therefore felt it to be a solemn duty, situat- 
ed as I was, not to retreat before the illegal violence 
which raged around me, but to show my abhor- 
rence of it, at whatever hazard ; and to lift up 
against it the voice of decided rebuke. 

Still I felt that I was not at liberty to compro- 
mise any principle, or to countenance any measures 
which I could not approve. I therefore stated to 
the brethren, frankly, my views; and told them if 
we could agree in a declaration of sentiments, and 
if they would consent, at least for the present, to 
stand on entirely independent ground, I would unite 
with them in the formation of the society. At their 
request, I drew up a declaration of sentiments, 
which, after some discussion and mutual conces- 
sions, was adopted; and the society was formed. 

We were unanimous in the opinion that the sys- 
tem of slavery is in all cases sinful; and that it is 
safe and a duty for the slaveholding states imme- 
diately to abolish it; and to replace it by wise and 
equitable laws, adapted to the condition of the 
emancipated; and designed to prevent among them 
vagrancy and idleness, and at the same time to ele- 
vate them as fast as possible, as free laborers, in the 
scale of intelligence and religion; and to secure to 
them, meanwhile, all their inalienable rights as men. 
We were also unanimous in the opinion, that it is 
in all cases a sin for an individual to hold and treat 
a slave as an article of property. But I wished to 
make an exception in favor of cases where, merely 


the legal relation was retained from benevolent pur- 
poses, or from absolute necessity. But on reflec- 
tion I was satisfied that the first exception ought not 
to be made, since retaining the legal relation from 
motives however good, involved the continual sub- 
jection of the slave to the whole power of the sys- 
tem; and in case of the insolvency or death of the 
master, to irreparable injustice or final ruin: and 
that therefore it is a duty not merely to abstain from 
treating a slave as property, but to put him out at 
once from under the power of the slave laws, by 
emancipation; so that his inalienable rights may be 
secured to him by law ; and not depend upon the 
will of a master. I also saw that it was utterly un- 
safe to put the whole power of judging what was 
for the slave's good into the hands of an interested 
party; especially when the results of his judgment 
affected so grave a question as the retaining of a 
human being under a code of laws so horrid as the 
slave laws of our land. I also saw that the princi- 
ple was liable to endless abuse, as nothing could be 
easier for every slaveholder in the land, than to 
make the slave's good the pretence for holding him 
in bondage, while the real motive was the love of 
gain. We finally agreed to make an exception only 
where the slaveholder had done all in his power to 
dissolve the legal relation, and extricate his slaves 
from the grasp of the system. If, after this, the 
laws of the community will not recognize them as 
free; and if the community will still treat them as 
under a legal relation to him which they will not 
dissolve, on them be the guilt. If, however, by any 


efforts or sacrifices he can so change his or their cir- 
cumstances as to gain the power of making them 
free, it is his duty to do it. In the discussion be- 
tween us, it was the object of the brethren not to 
admit of any exception which should weaken the 
power of truth on the conscience; whilst it was 
mine, so to guard our language as not to bring a 
false accusation against any man, and not to blame 
any one for not doing impossibilities. In conse- 
quence of the discussion, my own views were 
changed on one point; and the brethren conceded 
all which I desired on the other. 

I am thus particular in these details because 1 
wish the public to know the real spirit of those men 
who have been so stigmatized as rash, overbearing 
and hot-headed. I was warned again and again, 
that, if I tried to co-operate with them, I should find 
them fierce, fiery, radical, and uncompromising. But 
I can truly say that I discovered none of these traits 
in my intercourse with the vast majority of them. 
They seemed desirous of union with all good men. 
And if my original plan for a free and Christian dis- 
cussion could have been carried out, if good men 
had not retired and left us to the mercy of a mob, 
the bloody scenes that followed had never transpir- 
ed. And by kind and mutual comparison of views, 
attended with earnest prayer, we should all of us, 
I trust, have been guided into a knowledge of the 
truth; and seen eye to eye, and lifted up the voice 
together. And I cannot but lament that on a sub- 
ject like this, an effort made in kindness and good 


faith, to unite Christians and arrest the progress of 
lawless violence, should be defeated in the manner 
that it was. 


Towards the colonization society my feelings 
have ever been kind, though I never had the slight- 
est faith in it as a means of removing slavery. Nor 
have I ever seen why, if it will but confine its ef- 
forts to its proper sphere, it need fear the progress 
of the principles of immediate emancipation. How 
could the liberation, instruction and conversion of 
all the blacks in this country impede the establish- 
ment of such colonies in Africa as are likely to do 
any good ? All of three million blacks who chose, 
could then go to aid in introducing the elements of 
civil society into Africa : and the society could then 
have a wider field of selection; and better subjects 
to select. So that a colonization society based on 
any sound and rational principles ought to advo- 
cate, and not oppose the project, of giving freedom, 
education and religion to all the blacks of our land. 
Nor is there, in my judgment, any reason why the 
anti-slavery society should attack a colonization 
society based on right principles. That is, one 
which does not profess to be a remedy for slavery, 
and does not affirm that the blacks cannot rise in 
this country, because sinful prejudice against them 
is too strong for even Christianity itself to overcome ; 

D 2 


and which does advocate and encourage the imme- 
diate emancipation of slaves on grounds of duty. 
Such a society the anti-slavery societies ought not 
to attack; and I trust would not. But if a society 
whose professed end is colonization will allow itself 
to be used as a means of giving greater currency 
and power to the opinion already too powerful, that 
even Christianity cannot elevate the blacks, in this 
Christian land : if it will see slaves, and even free 
blacks, compelled to go to Africa with their own 
consent, by the grinding cruelty of compulsive le- 
gislation, and utter no rebuke; but co-operate with 
the workers of iniquity : if it will still profess to be 
a remedy for slavery, and oppose the only true rem- 
edy : if it will allow itself to be made the channel 
of popular odium against the advocates of immedi- 
ate emancipation : if it will allow its leading advo- 
cates to mark out as enemies to the public peace 
and safety, those who are already exposed to in- 
stant death by the violence of the mob : if it will 
never in the hour of peril, stimulate its members to 
rally round the standard of law and human rights, 
and stem the tide of brutal violence, and arrest the 
reign of anarchy : then, by what law, human or 
divine, does it claim to be exempt from censure ? 
Nay, more: from just and merited abhorrence ? 

I desire not to be misunderstood. I make no 
objection to the enterprise of establishing Christian 
colonies, without ardent spirits, or the spirit of con- 
quest, on the coast of Africa. A part of the work 
of christianizing Africa, I admit, might be done by 
them, whilst at the same time my main hope lies in 


direct missionary efforts, and to aid them I should 
prefer. But the establishment of suitable colonies 
I should never oppose. 

But the diversion of the society from its only law- 
ful object, to the work of opposing true principles 
and disseminating falsehood, and inflaming the pub- 
lic mind against any class of citizens, is a work of 
gratuitous mischief, which admits of no apology 
and no excuse. And that all this has been done 
who can deny ? 

Most freely do I admit the purity of the motives 
of many of its friends and advocates. Nor would 
I censure any man whose own acts have not ren- 
dered him worthy of censure. But ought not the 
friends of this society to remember with what severe 
scrutiny they mark and impute to the Anti-slavery 
Society the errors and imperfections and bad ' spirit 
of any of its members; and how critically they note its 
general influence ? How often has it been alleged 
that Christians ought not to join it for reasons like 
these ? And are not the friends of the Colonization 
Society bound to see, not only what it professes, but 
what it does ? 

But if in these days of stormy excitement my 
voice could be heard, I would entreat the members 
of that society to pause and see if endless hostility 
among good men, on so momentous a subject, is all 
that remains. Or is it true that opposition to the 
principles of immediate emancipation, and the con- 
tinuance of the prejudice against the blacks is so 
essential to the existence and operations of the 
Colonization Society that without them it must die. 


Cannot it survive the death of prejudice and error ? 
If not, it ought to die. But if it has higher and 
holier motives; if it has ends worthy of a man and 
a Christian; let it arouse itself to its appropriate 
work: and cease to impede the friends of universal 
and immediate emancipation in the pursuit of theirs 


On the question of reestablishing the Observer at 
Alton there was considerable discussion. I was 
undecided on the subject, and took no part in the 
debate. I deeply felt the importance of it, if it 
could be done : but having exerted myself in vain 
to induce some of the leading citizens to aid in re- 
storing and defending it, was inclined to consider 
it as impossible. Still I dared not use any influ- 
ence to prevent an effort, should there be any hope 
of success. Many of the friends of the paper had 
concluded that it was best to remove it to Quincy. 
But after discussion it was decided to make ano- 
ther attempt to reestablish it at Alton, with the aid 
of the citizens. The main reasons were : 

1. That to fail of reestablishing law at Alton 
would be a calamity to the state and country ; and 
that to allow the mob to drive it from this place 
would embolden them to attack it wherever it 
might go. Whereas in case of a failure, nothing 


more would be true of Alton than was already 
true : that is, that the law had been prostrated by 
a mob. Retreating could not redeem the character 
of Alton, or counteract the pernicious influence of 
the past. But reestablishing the press could. 

2. The voice of the nation, at least of the great 
majority said, it was a question of principle and 
involves momentous interests ; and approved bro- 
ther Lovejoy's courage and firmness, and encoura- 
ged him to persevere. 

3. A member of the convention from Cincinnati 
expressed in a most decided manner, the opinions 
of friends at that place, and said thai a retreat 
here would weaken them, there, anJ ~eiy where 
else. He n.irrafb4 the good effects of reestablishing 
the Philanthropist in Cincinnati aftw? " Mt had once 
been destroyed by a mob. These considerations 
exerted great influence. 

In view of these reasons it was decided to make 
one more effort to arouse the citizens of Alton to 
restore the majesty of violated law. Thus ended the 
week; and the rest of the sabbath was near at hand. 

It was deemed desirable that a sermon should 
be delivered on the subject of slavery ; and being 
requested by the society to perform the duty, I con- 
sented. My main object was to remove prejudice, 
allay excitement, and state the truth in an unexcep- 
tionable form. Having stated the truth I endeavored 
to show the safety of free and full inquiry, and the 
danger of allowing the progress of discussion to 
be arrested by force. I was encouraged by the ap- 


parent result to hope that the Spirit of God was be- 
ginning to restore soundness to the public mind) 
and prepared on monday morning to leave the 
city with some cheering hopes. On my way I was 
met by a number of citizens and requested to at- 
tend a meeting to consult on the expediency of re- 
establishing the press. Finding that a meeting of 
citizens was about to agitate the question of duty, 
I could not refuse to stop at their request, and par- 
ticipate in their deliberations. A large proportion 
of the meeting were not abolitionists. It was a 
meeting of citizens of various views on other sub- 
jects; hut united by common views as it regards 
the importance of sustaining- law. 

To open the way for discussion I moved that 
it is expec** 1 '*^ to reestablish the Alton Observer 
under its present editor. 

This opened the way for discussion, 

1. As to the ptinciples involved in defending the 
right of free inquhy. 

2. As to the pledge said to have been given by 
Mr. Lovejoy. 

3. As to the use of force to sustain law. 

On the first point, I stated it as my opinion that 
it was a fundamental principle in our government, 
that there were but two ways of checking the pro- 
gress of sentiments deemed erroneous, and injurious 
to the public good : by law, or by argument : and 
whatever these would not reach, it was useless 
and criminal to attempt to suppress by force ; that I 
should feel myself called upon to protect an infidel 
or Mahometan paper, if assailed; or to re-establish 


it, if destroyed; as much as a paper designed to 
advocate the truths of Christianity. To do other- 
wise would imply a consciousness of error on my 
own part, or a distrust of the power of God and the 
truth to defeat error in fair discussion. And that, 
to allow a mob discretionary power in any case 
without law, without argument, to prostrate by 
brute force a public paper, was a virtual surrender 
of the foundations of our civil government and of 
all religious toleration. Such an example, I told 
them, was contagious. That its influence in arousing 
the spirit of the mob was already visible through 
the state; and that every freeman in the state had 
a deep interest in the decision. It was not a local 
question; and could not be made such. The par- 
tizans of mob-law had made a breach upon the state 
at one of the most prominent points of influence and 
action; and that, in the providence of God, they 
stood in the very Thermopylae of the war and 
that it was their solemn duty to be faithful to their 
country and to God. 

, On the second point, Mr. Lovejoy stated that he 
had never given such a pledge as was claimed. 
That he did indeed say that it was not his purpose 
to discuss slavery as much as he had; but that he 
did not admit that they had any right to regulate 
his course on the subject; and that he .expressly 
reserved to himself the right to say whatever at 
any time he might think best. This statement was 
fully confirmed by a large number who were, pre- 
sent at the meeting in question. 

On the third point, I stated that it was the duty 


of civil rulers to sustain law by force, as an ultimate 
resort: otherwise they would bear the sword in 
vain; and not be a terror to evil doers, or a praise 
to them that do well. And that, to deny that this 
is right and a duty would dissolve the bonds of civil 
society at once; and let in an overwhelming tide of 
anarchy and crime. Laws not thus sanctioned are 
no laws, but mere advice, mere waste paper, mere 
cobwebs; and that the moment the defence of law 
is taken away, the hydra-headed monster of private 
warfare and revenge would deluge our land with 

I exhorted them not to act as individuals, but 
under the civil authority, and in obedience to law; 
admitting the right of private self-defence only in 
those cases in which sudden and unforeseen attacks 
precluded the possibility of resorting to the law in 
self-defence : as, when assailed by an assassin, or a 
highway robber. 

In answer to the inquiry, what is meant by the 
direction "when they persecute you in one city 
flee to another" I gave it as my opinion, that this 
is a duty when the government itself is the perse- 
cutor, or refuses to defend; and under such a gov- 
ernment those to whom Christ spoke were. But 
so long as a government will defend its subjects 
they ought to appeal to it and not flee. And I did 
not yet regard it as settled that the government of 
Alton would not defend Mr. Lovejoy; and that the 
community ought to be aroused to do their duty. 
But if the question were once settled that the gov- 
ernment of Alton will not defend a citizen aeainst 


the violence of a mob, I would exhort him, if per- 
secuted there, to flee elsewhere. But this was the 
very point in question, whether things had come to 
this pass. I hoped and believed that they had not. 
I felt sure that a little energy on the part of leading 
men could restore the laws to their wonted power. 

Application was made to the Mayor for aid and 
direction; which he readily consented to give. A 
regular company of city guard was afterwards or- 
ganized to act under him in accordance with law. 

Whilst at this meeting, a request was handed to 
me, signed by a number of respectable citizens of 
Upper Alton, not abolitionists, that I would resume 
the subject of slavery at the point where I left it on 
the Sabbath, and carry out the principles then ad- 
vanced to the final removal of the evil from the 
country ; and pledging themselves that there should 
be no disturbance. Accordingly I preached in the 
evening; and all was quiet. I endeavored to show 
the importance of diffusing a kind spirit throughout 
the nation, and of convincing the slave states of 
our interest in them; so that the subject might be 
fairly discussed and they convinced of the safety 
of the plan, and induced to carry it out. I endea- 
vored also to show that there was no need of colli- 
sion between the Colonization and Anti-Slavery 
Societies, if each would take a proper ground, and 
maintain no false principles of action: and endea- 
vored to point out how this could be done: for I 
was desirous to arrest the progress of strife between 
the two societies. 

Again, by request of many gentlemen in Alton, 


not worshiping in the Presbyterian church, I re- 
peated my first sermon on Wednesday evening. 
During this day threats of violence were made ; and 
in accordance with the direction of the Mayor, arms 
were placed in a house adjacent to the church, to 
be used by men designated for the purpose, if need- 
ful. Some slight indications of violence occurring, 
it was at once quelled by the appearance of the 
guard, and the sermon was closed in quiet. Had it 
not been for this arrangement, serious acts of vio- 
lence might have occurred; and those best able to 
judge do not doubt that it would have been so. 
Subsequent events do not render it at all improb- 


WE now come to a series of events upon which 
the final result of all our proceedings was destined 
to turn. I refer to the meetings of citizens on the 
second and third of November. 

The resolution of the meeting of citizens to re- 
establish and defend the Observer soon became 
known; and excited in some minds no little fer- 
ment ; and probably gave rise to the subsequent 
meetings. To give a clear insight into the design 
and proceedings of these meetings, it is necessary to 
advert to the state of the community in Alton at 
that time. The whole community might be divided 


into four classes. 1. The abolitionists: 2. The 
friends of law and order who were willing to defend 
their rights, though they did not agree with them 
in opinion: 3. Those who professed to be friends 
of law and order in general, but who permitted 
their feelings of opposition to the opinions of the 
abolitionists so much to influence their conduct, that 
they refused to act in sustaining the law; because, 
by sustaining the law they thought that they should 
in fact, be sustaining abolitionists: 4. The mob. 
Of these classes the first two acted together in de- 
fending the press; not as abolitionists, but as friends 
of law and order, and for the sake of maintaining 
the great principles of society. Against them was 
arrayed the mob. The other class in which were 
found most of the members of the Colonization 
Society, and of the leading business and profession- 
al men of the place, professed to take the ground of 
neutrality; and to regard the others in the light of 
hostile parties, and themselves as unexcited, mod- 
erate, judicious men, and as adapted to be medi- 
ators between the two. Though then* feelings were 
decidedly opposed to the abolitionists, yet in their 
better judgment they knew that it was wrong to put 
them down by force. I well knew that in this class 
lay the whole controlling power of the community; 
and if they could be brought to take decided ground 
in defence of law, the work was done. To do this 
I had sought for some time, but no opportunity was 
presented to gain access to them in a body. I had 
prepared the principles which I wished to present 
to them, at first with the thought of offering them 


at a meeting of the Colonization Society which was 
near at hand; but being convinced that they would 
be deemed inappropriate, I was deliberating in my 
own mind the expediency of returning home by the 

At this time, as I was walking in the street with 
Mr. W. S. Oilman, we were met by Rev. J. Hogan. 
He informed us that there was a terrible state of 
things, and wished to know if something could not 
be done to allay the excitement. I expressed it as 
my opinion, that if certain men would pass certain 
resolutions which I then had, and act upon them 
With decision, all would be quiet before sun-down. 
Mr. Gilman then suggested the calling of a meeting 
of leading individuals; and Mr. Hogan approved of 
it and consented to notify them to meet in his store. 
At this meeting were some of the prominent mer- 
chants and professional men, together with some of 
the clergy. 

My main purpose was to cpnvince them of two 

1. That it was not on the merits of the senti- 
ments of abolitionists which they were called to de- 
cide ; but simply on the question of sustaining law 
and order. 

2. That it was not a mere question of feeling or 
expediency; but of duty. That they had no right 
to be neutral on such a question, involving as it 
did, the very existence of civil society. 

And I confess that I did fondly hope that I could 
convince them on these points. Accordingly I 


laid before them the following resolutions for their 

Resolved, 1. That the free communication of 
thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable 
rights of man; and that every citizen may freely 
speak, write and print on any subject, being respon- 
sible for, the abuse of that liberty. 

2. That the abuse of this right is the only legal 
ground for restraining its use. 

3. That the question of abuse must be decided 
solely by a regular civil court, and in accordance 
with the law, and not by an irresponsible and un- 
organized portion of the community, be it great or 

4. For restraining what the law will not reach, 
we are to depend solely on argument and moral 
means, aided by the controlling influences of the 
Spirit of God; and that these means, appropriately 
used, furnish an ample defense against all ultimate 
prevalence of false principles and unhealthy ex- 

5. That when discussion is free and unrestrained, 
and proper means are used, the triumph of truth is 
certain and that with the triumph of truth, the re- 
turn of peace is sure ; but that all attempts to check 
or prohibit discussion, will cause a daily increase 
of excitement until such checks or prohibitions are 

6. That our maintenance of these principles 
should be independent of all regard to persons or 

7. That we are more especially called on to main- 



tain them in case of unpopular sentiments or per- 
sons, as in no other case will any effort to maintain 
them be needed. 

8. That these principles demand the protection 
of the editor and of the press of the Alton Observer, 
on grounds of principle solely, and altogether dis- 
connected with approbation of his sentiments, per- 
sonal character or course as editor of the paper. 

9. That on these grounds alone, and irrespective 
of all political, moral, or religious differences, but 
solely as American citizens, from a sacred regard to 
the great principles of civil society, to the welfare 
of our country, to the reputation and honor of our 
city, to our own dearest rights and privileges, and 
those of our children, we will protect the press, the 
property and the editor of the Alton Observer, and 
maintain him in the free exercise of his rights, to 
print and publish whatever he pleases, in obedience 
to the supreme laws of the land, and under the 
guidance and directions of the constituted civil 
authorities, he being responsible for the abuse of 
this liberty only to the laws of the land. 

The principles of these resolutions seemed to me 
self-evident. Nay, I thought them so clear that all 
candid men would pass them by an unanimous 
vote. I therefore did not enlarge upon them; but 
knowing that a deep-rooted feeling against the 
abolitionists was liable to blind their minds, I en- 
deavored to overcome its influence by the most 
powerful considerations. 

I endeavored to convince them that with the 
friends of Mr. Lovejoy it was a question, not of 


feeling, but of deep religious principle. That they 
were not fanatics and enthusiasts, but devoted, con- 
scientious men; and that it was not only wrong but 
unsafe, to attempt to repress by violence the con- 
scientious efforts of such men. To sustain these 
views, I read the following extracts from a speech 
of the Hon. Daniel Webster. 

" On the general question of slavery, a great por- 
tion of the community is already strongly excited. 
The subject has not only attracted attention as a 
question of Politics, but has struck a far deeper- 
toned chord. It has arrested the Religious feelings 
of the country; it has taken strong hold on the Con- 
sciences of men. He is a rash man, indeed, little 
conversant with human nature, and especially has 
he a very erroneous estimate of the character of the 
people of this country, who supposes that a feeling 
of this kind is to be Trifled with or Despised. It 
will assuredly Cause itself to be Respected. It 
may be reasoned with; it may be made willing I 
believe it is entirely willing to fulfil all existing 
engagements, and all existing duties; to uphold and 
defend the constitution, as it is established, with 
whatever regret about some provisions which it does 
actually contain. But to coerce it into silence to 
endeavor to restrain its free expression to seek to 
compress and confine it, warm as it is, and more 
heated as such endeavors would inevitably render 
it should all this be attempted, I know nothing 
even in the Constitution or in the Union itself, 
which would not be Endangered by the Explosion 
Avhich might follow," 


I also referred to the fact that even Clarkson and 
Wilberforce, with their coadjutors, names which the 
world now delights to honor, were, when they first 
began to oppose the slave-trade, stigmatized as fan- 
atics and enthusiasts: and assured them that it was 
as vain to attempt to oppose the progress of inves- 
tigation by exciting popular odium now as then. 

I referred them to the fact that the opponents of 
the abolitionists had the majority in numbers and 
wealth in Alton ; and that if the views of the aboli- 
tionists were false, they surely had in that vast ma- 
jority power of intellect enough to expose them; 
and that to allow the use of force was to confess 
that they could not defeat them by argument. I 
here read the following extracts from papers pub- 
lished in the slave states, and entreated them not to 
be more zealous in behalf of slaveholders, than they 
were in their own behalf. 

" Outrage. We learn from the St. Louis Repub- 
lican that on the 21st, a printing press which the 
Rev. Mr. Lovejoy had just received at Alton for 
the purpose of re-establishing the Observer, was 
taken from the house where it had been stored, and 
thrown into the Mississippi. The Observer was 
tainted with abolitionism, and the people, or a por- 
tion of them at least, of Alton, are unwilling that it 
shall be published at that place. We have before 
spoken of our regret that the rights of citizens can- 
not be secured in a land which claims to be govern- 
ed by law. Mr. Lovejoy has the right of publish- 
ing his paper even in Alton, and however we may 
differ from him in relation to his tenets, we certain- 


ly admire the tenacity with which he clings to them, 
and the pertinacity with which he asserts his right 
to disseminate his principles." Lou. Gaz. 

" We agree with our friend of the Louisville 
Gazette, that the rights of Mr. Lovejoy have mani- 
festly been violated. And we will add a query for 
the consideration of the violators. Do you not ad- 
mit the truth and moral force of the sentiments 
promulgated, when you resort to illegal, animal, 
or brute force to postpone their promulgation?" 
Lexington Intelligencer. 

I appealed to their generous and magnanimous 
feelings; and asked them if it was honorable for 
the vast majority to allow the rights of a minority, or 
an individual, to be trampled on because he is weak. 

I observed that in a popular government the 
rights of minorities, and of individuals ought to be 
guarded with peculiar care, otherwise they would 
degenerate into the most odious tyrannies. 

I endeavored to convince them that to re-estab- 
lish law was essential to their temporal interests; 
and that not to do it would be ruinous. 

I reminded them of the infinite value of the op- 
portunity now in their hands to gain a glorious vic- 
tory in behalf of principle ; to wipe off the disgrace 
which now rested on their city; and to stand high- 
er in the eye of the Christian world than ever before: 
and that, if now lost it could never be recalled. 

I adjured them to regard the honor of our coun- 
try, and the welfare of the civilized world as con- 
nected with the fate of our institutions: and warned 
them against suffering a new stigma to be infixed 


on our national character by permitting the perman- 
ent triumph of misrule in their city. To sustain 
these views I read to them from Dr. Channing's 
letter to H. Clay, the following deeply aifecting 
view of the influence of past scenes of riot on the 
opinions of the world concerning us as a nation. 

"That the cause of republicanism is suffering 
abroad through the defects and crimes of our coun 
trymen, is as true as that it is regarded with in 
creased skepticism among ourselves. Abroad, re- 
publicanism is identified with the United States ; and 
it is certain that the American name has not risen 
of late in the world. It so happens that whilst 
writing, I have received a newspaper from England, 
in which Lynch law is as familiarly associated with 
our country, as if it were one of our establishments. 
We are quoted as monuments of the degrading 
tendencies of popular institutions. When I visited 
England, fifteen years ago, republican sentiments 
were freely expressed to me. 1 should probably 
hear none now. Men's minds seem to be return- 
ing to severer principles of government; and this 
country is responsible for a part of this change. It 
is believed abroad that property is less secure 
among us, order less stable, law less revered, social 
ties more easily broken, religion less enforced, life 
held less sacred, than in other countries. Undoubt- 
edly the prejudices of foreign nations, the interests 
of foreign governments have led to gross exaggera- 
tions of evils here. The least civilized parts of the 
country are made to represent the whole; and oc- 
casional atrocities are construed into habits. But 


who does not feel that we have given cause of re- 
proach ? And shall we fix this reproach and exas- 
perate it into indignation and hatred, by adopting a 
policy against which the moral sentiments of the 
Christian world revolt ? Shall we make the name 
of republic " a stench in the nostrils of all nations ?" 

I reminded them of the connection of their con- 
duct with the welfare of Illinois; and told them that 
the permanent triumph of the mob in Alton would 
weaken the power of law throughout the state; and 
that it was not, and could not be made a question 
of local interest, since it affected principles involving 
the rights of all. 

In conclusion, I reminded them that they were 
acting on the great theatre of the world, and in the 
midst of attentive nations. That the proceedings 
of this day would ere long be reviewed in Exeter 
Hall, in London, and in every Christian nation; and 
urged them to rise above local influences and feel- 
ings, and act as in view of the civilized world. 

Had my audience consisted solely of persons not 
committed to the mob, the appeal might have been 
successful. But I noticed before I closed, that a 
number had come in, who were in public sentiment 
identified with the instigators or actors in the pre- 
ceding riotous proceedings. 

I did hope, notwithstanding, that among those 
who were not thus committed, my resolutions would 
have found an a ' ocate. I was pleading, not for 
men, but for principles, the importance of which 
language cannot utter: principles in which are in- 
volved all that man holds dear on earth. Before 


me were ministers of the gospel, members of vari- 
ous churches, learned civilians, and men of the 
highest standing in the commercial world. From 
some of them at least I anticipated a warm response. 
It was not an hour of excitement or of tumult. I 
had not before me an infuriated mob: but ^lose who 
gloried in being esteemed the calm, thoughtful and 
judicious men of the place: the arbiters of public 
opinion and the conservators of the peace. Judge 
then of the chill which fell upon my heart when not 
a single voice was raised in behalf of principles so 
sacred; of interests so vast. 

The audience seemed to be taken by surprise. 
Some observed that they had mistaken the nature 
of the meeting: others, that they, thought the meet- 
ing was called for the sake of compromise ; and 
others said nothing. One moved to lay the resolu- 
tion on the table. 

Another professed to see no use in passing such 
resolutions. The principles were nothing new; they 
were already incorporated in our bill of rights, and 
we could give them no new force by passing them 
now. He also remarked, that to pass these resolu- 
tions was virtually to condemn ourselves; for it 
could not be denied that some leading men of the 
city had promoted, or at least connived at what had 
been done : and it could not be expected that any 
party should own itself entirely in the wrong. 

In behalf of what particular individuals he spoke 
he did not inform us; but, as he was not contradict- 
ed, I suppose that some of the mob were there, ac- 
cording to my previous impressions. Whether they 


came in by invitation or by intrusion I have not 
been informed. At all events their interests were 
represented as inconsistent with the passage of the 
resolutions proposed : and as no one objected to 
these remarks, it seemed to be the sense of the meet- 
ing, that they ought to consult not only for the main- 
tenance of the laws, but also for the feelings of the 
mob, and not require them to acknowledge that 
they had been entirely in the wrong. 

That intelligent men, ministers of the gospel, 
church members, and civilians should not have seen 
the grossness of this principle may well excite sur- 
prise. And that they should have abstained from 
passing resolutions the simple import of which was, 
that they would maintain the law, lest they should 
censure its violaters, is still more surprising ! But 
that they should finally appoint a committee of com- 
promise between the friends of law and the mob, 
after refusing to vote to sustain the law, is a phe- 
nomenon that sets even wonder at defiance ! Yet 
so it was. 

A reverend gentleman, after speaking of the spirit 
of the resolutions as good in general, and as meet- 
ing his decided approbation, hoped that they might 
lead to some compromise by which the contending 
parties might be united and harmony restored. An- 
other speaker was of the same opinion; and it was 
voted that they be referred to a committee. 

Of course, as the contending parties were the 
friends of the law, and the mob and as a compro- 
mise was to be effected between them by the moder- 
ate party, each must be represented in the committee. 


Let us now look at the claims of the parties to be 
reconciled. And first, of the mob. 

They claimed the right to demand of Mr. Love- 
joy to cease printing in Alton; and if he would not, 
to compel him by force, by sacking his office, break- 
ing his presses, abusing his person, and threatening 
his life. 

The friends of law claimed that he had an inal- 
ienable right to do all that the others forbad; and 
that the community were sacredly bound by a re- 
gard to God and the welfare of society to defend 

And the duty assigned to the committee was, to 
relieve the mob from the necessity of confessing 
that they were entirely wrong; the moderate party 
from voting to sustain the laws; and finally, by a 
compromise to unite in harmonious society, the 
friends and enemies of the law. 

It will at once be perceived that to perform such 
a task, required no common ability. And if the 
committee did not finally succeed in their work, we 
shall do them injustice if we do not remember how 
arduous was the enterprise they undertook. 

But, to be serious, I could not contain my sur- 
prise when I heard sober and serious men talk of a 
compromise in such a case. I did think that they 
would see how hopeless the task, and return to the 
sure, safe and consistent ground of recommending a 
a maintenance of the law. 

Before the meeting closed the following resolu- 
tion was passed : 

" Resolved unanimously by this meeting, That 


in the interim between the adjournment and re-as- 
sembling hereof, if any infraction of the peace be 
attempted by any party or set of men, in this com- 
munity, we will aid to the utmost of our power in 
the maintenance of the laws." 

The object of this has been variously understood. 
I at the time understood it to refer to the press 
which was hourly expected. Certain it is, that at 
this time a steamboat was coming up the river, in 
which it was supposed the press might be. It is 
also true that it had been the avowed purpose of 
the mob to destroy the press as soon as landed; and 
that boats had been searched and strangers abused 
and insulted; and in one instance an effort made to 
throw overboard a box of hardware of a passen- 
ger under the idea that the box contained a press. 
In advocating the resolution it was remarked that 
it was not necessary to destroy the press at once if 
at all. The execution of that work might at all 
events be suspended till the next meeting. 

Undersiand it as you will, it evidently implied that 
either the mob or their leaders were there: That 
there was there the power to arrest violence, or to 
say to it, Go on, and " let slip the dogs of war." 

Though deeply disappointed in my fond antici- 
pations of good, I did not despair. I reflected 
that there were men on that committee of high 
standing and great influence; that they were to re- 
port on great and fundamental principles; and that 
they were connected with a series of transactions 
which had already arrested the attention of the 
whole union; and would soon be known through- 


out the civilized world. It seemed to me that even 
a regard to character and reputation, if no high- 
er motive, would induce them to take enlarged 
and liberal views, such as would be in coincidence 
with the spirit of the age. However, having done 
all in my power, I endeavored to commit the case 
to God, and patiently wait the result. 

At this meeting Mr. Lovejoy was not present; 
nor, as a general fact, any of the leading suppor- 
ters of the press. Mr. W. S. Oilman is an ex- 
ception. It was well known that he was a decided 
supporter of the press, and that he suggested the 
meeting to Mr. Hogan, in order that the resolutions 
proposed by me might be passed. But it was the 
design that the meeting should consist of moderate, 
influential, and respectable men. 

A meeting of the Colonization Society was held 
in the evening. The leading /speakers were, Rev. 
J. Hogan, Rev. J. M. Peck, Rev. Joel Parker, and 
one whose name I cannot recall. A favorable op- 
portunity was now presented to inculcate upon the 
audience the importance of sustaining the laws. 
Perhaps it may be thought that this is foreign from 
the object of the society. If so, it would seem to 
be equally foreign from its object to attack the opin- 
ions of the abolitionists; especially as at this time 
public feeling against them was sufficiently high. 
Still, in two instances their opinions were pointedly 
attacked, and one speaker took considerable pains 
to go out of his way to do it. 



During the next forenoon I did not leave my 
room. A weight was upon my mind. I felt that 
momentous interests were at stake; and that there 
was aid in none but in God. Brother Lovejoy and 
Hale called in, and we spent a season together in 

Never shall I forget the calmness of Mr. Love- 
joy's mind, his sense of the presence of God, and 
the child-like confidence with which he committed 
his cause to Him that heareth prayer. How he 
interceded for the cause of God, and prayed espe- 
cially for the best good of the community in which 
he dwelt! He earnestly supplicated for an abiding 
sense of the presence of God and for strength that 
he might not betray his cause in the hour of trial. 

He was perfectly cool and collected, and awaited 
the result of the report of the committee with great 
tranquillity of mind. He deeply regretted that a 
right decision on principles of such moment had 
been declined by a select circle of the most influen- 
tial men in the place, and that under the influence 
of such an act the question was now to be thrown 
before a promiscuous assembly, many of whom 
were so deeply committed to the wrong side. The 
very reason of calling the meeting was to induce 
leading men to pledge themselves on the side of law 
and good order, well knowing that if they would 
F 2 


do it, it would be an easy matter to induce the 
whole community to do the same. Yet we had 
some hope in the fact that it seemed almost impos- 
sible that a committee including so many intelligent 
men should dare to hazard their reputation in the 
eyes of the civilized world by recommending a dis- 
regard of principles so plain. At all events, what- 
ever their decision might be, he had made up his 
mind as to his course. It was not a blind impulse, 
but a decision founded on reasons. They were 
these. No effort to defend the press by force under 
the civil authorities had been made. Hence, though 
the actual number of the mob was reputed to be 
small, they had held undisputed sway. And he 
had no doubt that a decided resistance, even of a 
comparatively small number of resolute men, under 
the civil authorities, would be amply sufficient to 
defend the press. And after the resolution of a large 
number of citizens to defend it, under the guidance 
of the civil authority; and especially since the mayor 
had promised to fulfil his duties as head of the city 
authorities, Mr. Lovejoy considered it as decided 
that the press could and would be defended. 
Especially as Mr. W. S. Gilman had agreed to de- 
posit it for safe keeping in his store till it could be 
established in some equally defensible place. The 
store was of stone, and as it seemed to him impos- 
sible to be stormed by a mob. And he thought 
that a regard for the owners of the store, so highly 
respected throughout the state, and to whose enter- 
prize and capital the place was so deeply indebted, 
would almost of itself be a sufficient defense. 


It was now to him a question of personal safety. 
He knew that as an individual he could not always 
be defended, and that he was liable at any hour to 
perish by the hand of an assassin or the fury of 
some midnight mob. His house was at the eastern 
extremity of Alton, and it was from the centre of 
business, where his office would be, a long and in 
some parts lonely walk, during which he could 
easily be waylaid. He supposed also that the 
whole pressure of motive would now be made to 
bear on his love of life and regard to his family, to 
induce him to flee. And after a long and deliberate 
view of the case, his friends had decided, that, place 
the press where you might in this state, in any suit- 
able position, the example of Alton would stimulate 
the friends of mob-law to assail and endanger his 
life. Even the fact that he had once left St. Louis 
seemed now continually to spur them on. 

It was to him, therefore, simply a question of 
duty. Was it his duty to resign the ground at once, 
and let another take his place; or at all hazards to 
maintain his post ? 

But so highly did the great proportion of his 
readers value him as an editor, and such was the 
sympathy for him throughout the nation, that his 
friends felt that the paper would go down at once as soon 
as he left it; especially under such an editor as the 
mob would allow. For they saw clearly that it was 
not his imprudencies, but his sentiments and pur- 
poses which were the real ground of offense. It 
therefore resolved itself in his mind into one simple 
question; Could heas a friend of God and man de- 


sert the cause in which he was engaged to save his 
life? and on this his decision was unwavering. 

He had often expressed his willingness to do any 
thing which was for the good of the cause which he 
advocated. But when his friends had pronounced 
the opinion that there was no gain to be expected, 
and might be much loss in a removal ; and that if 
he resigned his post as editor the paper would soon 
die, his mind never wavered again. 

All these points were fully discussed at the meet- 
ing at his house at which I was not present; but of 
which I was afterwards informed. 

Seeing the position of his mind, I made no effort 
to change it; for I saw no reason to doubt that the 
grounds assumed by his friends were true: and 
much as I loved him and his family, I did not dare 
to allow my personal feelings to induce me to at- 
tempt to divert him from what seemed to him so 
clearly the path of duty and to me also, if such 
were the facts. Moreover, I did most fully expect 
that, when it was known that he was decidedly re- 
solved to maintain his ground, the opposition would 
give way, for I could not believe that they were 
prepared to perpetrate deliberate murder. 

I know it is very easy for those not on the spot, 
and ignorant of the state of moral causes in the 
community, to lay down the dictates of prudence 
in view of results. This is a cheap wisdom and 
easily gained. But let any one consider our cir 
cumstances, and say what better could have been 
done. It was not a question of self-will, but of 
principle. We felt for the freedom of the press and 


for the welfare of Alton. Alton had always stood 
high in my feelings and in my judgment. Nor 
could I make it seem a reality to my mind that a 
place so honored and so loved could not be redeem- 
ed from so deep and deadly disgrace as already 
rested on her. Her relations to the cause of God ; 
her noble exertions in behalf of literature, religion 
and morality; her influence on the destinies of our 
youthful state; rose before my mind, and I could 
not bear the thought that a place around which so 
many fond remembrances of the past and so many 
future hopes were entwined, should be abandoned 
to an infuriate mob as past recovery. And we 
felt called on to plead with God, for thesake of his 
own glory, to interpose; to bring the wickedness . 
of the wicked to an end, and to establish the 
righteousness of the just. 


. I HAD meditated with much anxiety on the course 
of thought best adapted to induce the assembly to 
resolve to maintain the laws. But on arriving at 
the meeting I was soon relieved from this respon- 
sibility. Though I was requested to attend the 
first meeting and offer the resolutions on which the 
report was now to be made: and though, in com- 
mon with every subject of our free government, 
my dearest interests were involved in the decision, 


yet by the first vote I was precluded alike from 
voting and debate. I sat down in silent sadness 
to await the result. 

After the meeting was opened the chairman of 
the committee made the following report. 

" The committee appointed to take under consider- 
ation certain resolutions submitted at our last meet- 
ing, beg leave to report: That they have given to 
those resolutions a deliberate and candid examina- 
tion, and are constrained to say that, however they 
may approve their general spirit, they do not con- 
sider them, as a whole, suited to the exigency 
which has called together the citizens of Alton. It 
is notorious, that fearful excitements have grown 
out of collisions of sentiment between two great 
parties on the subject, and that these excitements 
have led to excesses on both sides deeply to be de- 
plored. Too much of crimination and recrimina- 
tion have been indulged. On the one hand, the 
anti-abolitionists have been charged with a heart- 
less cruelty, a reckless disregard of the rights of 
man, and an insidious design, under deceptive pre- 
texts, to perpetuate the foul stain of slavery. They 
have been loaded with many and most opprobrious 
epithets, such as pirates, man-stealers, &c. &c. On 
the other hand, the abolitionists have been too in- 
discriminately denounced as violent disturbers of 
the good order of society, wilfully incendiary and 
disorganizing in their spirit, wickedly prompting 
servile insurrections, and traitorously encouraging 
infractions of the constitution, tending to disunion, 
violence, and bloodshed. These uncharitable im. 


peachments of motives have led to an appalling cri- 
sis, demanding of every good citizen the exertion 
of his utmost influence to arrest all acts of violence, 
and to restore harmony to our once peaceful and 
prosperous, but now distracted city. It is not to be 
disguised, that parties are now organizing and arm- 
ing for a conflict, which may terminate in a train of 
mournful consequences. Under such circumstances 
have we been convened. And your committee are 
satisfied that nothing short of a generous forbearance, 
a mild spirit of conciliation, and a yielding compro- 
mise of conflicting claims, can compose the elements 
of discord, and restore quiet to this agitated com- 
munity. They are therefore forced to regard the re- 
solutions under consideration, as falling short of the 
great end in view as demanding too much of con- 
cession on one side and too little on the other. 
Neither party can be expected to yield every thing, 
and to acknowledge themselves exclusively in the 
wrong. In this there is no compromise. There 
must be a mutual sacrifice of prejudices, opinions and 
interests to accomplish the desired reconciliation 
such a sacrifice as led to the adoption of the great 
charter of American freedom, which has secured to 
ourselves, and which promises a continuance to our 
posterity, of the blessed fruits of peace, prosperity, 
and union. Whilst, therefore, we fully and freely 
recognize the justness of the principles engrafted 
upon our constitution, that the free communication 
of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable 
rights of man, and that every citizen may freely 
speak, write and print on any subject, being respon- 


sible for the abuse of that liberty; that the abuse of 
this right is the only legal ground for restraining its 
use ; that the question of abuse must be decided 
solely by a regular civil court, and in accordance 
with the law, and not by an irresponsible and unor- 
ganized portion of the community, be it great or 
small your committee would, with earnest impor- 
tunity, urge as a means of allaying the acrimony of 
party strife, the unanimous adoption of the follow- 
ing preamble and resolutions: 

" Whereas, it is of the utmost importance that 
peace, order, and a due regard to law, should be 
restored to our distracted community; and whereas, 
in all cases of conflicting opinions about rights and 
privileges, each party should yield some things in 
the spirit and form of compromise : Therefore 

" Resolved, 1. That a strong confidence is enter- 
tained that our citizens will abstain from all undue 
excitements, discountenance every act of violence to 
person or property, and cherish a sacred regard for 
the great principles contained in our Bill of Rights. 

" 2. That it is apparent to all good citizens, that 
the exigencies of the place require a course of mod- 
eration in relation to the discussion of principles in 
themselves deemed right, and of the highest impor- 
tance ; and that it is no less a dictate of duty than 
expediency, to adopt such a course in the present 

" 3. That so far as your committee have possessed 
the means of ascertaining the sense of this commu- 
nity, in relation to the establishment of a religious 
newspaper, such a course would, at a suitable time, 


and under the influence of judicious proprietors and 
editors, contribute to the cause of religion and good 
citizenship, and promote the prosperity of the city 
and country. 

"4. That while there appears to be no dispo- 
sition to prevent the liberty of free discussion, 
through the medium of the press or otherwise, as a 
general thing, it is deemed a matter indispensable 
to the peace and harmony of this community, 
that the labors and influence of the late editor of 
the Observer be no longer identified with any news- 
paper establishment in this city. 

5. That whereas it has come to the knowledge 
of your committee, that the late editor of the Ob- 
server has voluntarily proposed to the proprietors 
and stockholders of the Alton Observer, to relin- 
quish his interest and connection with that paper, 
if, in the opinion of his friends, that course were 
expedient your committee consider that such a 
course would highly contribute to the peace and 
harmony of the place, and indicate on the part of 
the friends of the Observer a disposition to do all 
in their power to restore the city to its accustomed 
harmony and quiet. 

" 6. That we would not be understood as reflect- 
ing in the slightest degree upon the private charac- 
ter or motives of the late editor of the Alton Ob- 
server, by any thing contained in the foregoing re- 

Probably a report was never made in circum- 
stances of greater interest, or on principles of 


higher moment: and as it was evidently drawn up 
after much deliberation it merits a careful scrutiny. 

The great object of the resolutions on which the 
report was based was, to secure the defense of a cit- 
izen in the exercise of his inalienable rights against 
the violence of a mob. " As a whole" they con- 
sisted of two parts : a statement of principles; and 
a resolution to act according to them. To these it 
seems the committee gave a "deliberate and candid 
examination;" and what is the result ? They ap- 
prove their general spirit, but do not consider them 
as a whole suited to the exigency which had called 
them together. The justice of the principles of 
the first three resolutions they fully and freely re- 
cognize;" of course the only thing to which they 
object is, the rest of the resolutions designed to 
put them in practice. 

The 'committee then admit that Mr. Lovejoy has 
the right to print what he pleases; and to be depriv- 
ed of this right only for abusing it; and that the 
question of abuse is to be settled by law, and not 
by a mob. They fully and freely recognize the 
justice of these principles. Then why not recom- 
mend that they be enforced ? Why not speak out 
in tones of manly indignation, and rebuke the vio- 
lators of law, and call on all who love their country 
to rally to its defense ? If the first three resolutions 
are true, why are not the last six suited to the exi- 
gency ? Are they false ? Do the committee mean 
to say that, in opposing erroneous views, such as 
the law will not reach, we are not to depend solely 
on argument and moral means aided by the Spirit 


of God ? and that these means are not an ample 
defense against error arid excitement ? Do they 
hold that, in addition to these, mobs are sometimes 
needed ? Do they believe that when discussion is 
free and proper means are used the triumph of the 
truth is not certain ? and that the triumph of the 
truth will not produce peace ? And do they mean to 
say that all attempts to check discussion will not 
produce excitement ? And do they mean to advocate 
and justify the suppression of discussion by force ? 
Do they believe that we ought not to maintain these 
principles without respect to parties or persons ? 
Do they mean that the right of speech is to be pro- 
tected only in the case of popular opinions, where 
it needs no protection, and to be left defenseless in 
case of unpopular opinions, where protection is 
needed ? Did they niean to say to the citizens of 
Alton, You are under no obligation to defend Mr. 
Lovejoy or his paper on ' the ground of principle, 
and that a sacred regard to the principles of society 
do not require it ? Are the committee willing be- 
fore the civilized world to avow sentiments like 
these ? If not: if the resolutions are true, why not 
recommend them ? 

But we are told they are not adapted to the 
emergency which had called them together. And 
what is this emergency ? A mob had attempted to 
silence a press, and expel an editor from Alton. 
The resolutions recommended 'that this attempt 
should be resisted and the liberty of the press main- 
tained; and gave reasons for so doing. Now, why 
are not these resolutions adapted to the emergency ? 


Is it possible that the committee did not see what 
must be the influence of such a report on the mob ? 
We approve of the principles of the laws, but a res- 
olution to maintain them is not adapted to the pres- 
ent crisis ! Is it possible that they did not see that 
if they had proposed a resolution to violate them, 
its influence could not have been more deadly ? 

The reasons assigned for refusing to recommend 
the resolutions are truly surprising. They are in 
brief that two parties were now organizing for a 
conflict, which may terminate in a train of mourn- 
ful consequences unless some compromise is made. 

It is indeed true that two parties did exist as it 
regards the truth or falsehood of the opinions of 
the abolitionists; and as it regards the expediency 
of forming a state society; and as it regards the 
time and mode of carrying on the discussions. But 
on these points the abolitionists had never refused 
to compromise. They had offered to do all in their 
power to unite good men and avert division ; and 
all their efforts had been vain; and a plan was 
adopted to vote down all discussion. It was not 
moderate discussion which their opponents demand- 
ed, but no discussion. Not that Mr. Lovejoy should 
print his opinions moderately but that he should not 
print them at all. 

Now, at the moment this claim was made, it 
ceased to be a party question. It assumed a new 
ground and changed its nature entirely. It was 
now the question, Shall a citizen, guilty of 
no crime and without judicial process, be stripped 
of all his rights:? And whoever undertakes to da 


this is no longer a party but a mob. And this was 
the precise attitude of affairs at this time. Jt was 
not a question between abolitionists and anti-aboli- 
tionists; but between the friends of law and a mob; 
and are these the parties intended by the com- 

The committee further say that excitements be- 
tween these parties have led to excesses on both 
sides, deeply to be deplored. Is it so? Of the mob 
the assertion is true. But what. had the friends of 
law and order done? Nothing but strive to sus- 
tain the law. And is this an excess deeply to be 
deplored ? 

Again, they say, too much crimination and re- 
crimination have been indulged : and specify 
charges mutually made by the parties. That the 
abolitionists have thus been charged is true. I heard 
these and numerous other false charges publicly 
made against them in Alton. But abolitionists did 
not render railing for railing. Nothing of the 
kind specified was said 'or hinted at in the conven- 
tion. Nor did Mr. Lovejoy or his friends ever load 
their opponents with opprobrious epithets, as pirates, 
manstealers, &c. Indeed he was always very cau- 
tious not to use such language: and so far as I 
know, all the proceedings of the abolitionists at Al- 
ton were, at all times, gentlemanly and decorous. 

The simple fact is, and no sophistry can hide it, 
that Mr. Lovejoy's rights, and .those of all his sub- 
scribers had been assailed by a mob: and nothing 
was needed to restore quiet but that the mob should 
let them alone. But the mob would not; and for 
o 2 


this reason the friends of law armed themselves to 
repel illegal violence. 

The recommendation of the committee instead 
of the resolution to support the laws is no less sur- 
prising. What is it? A compromise! And no less 
surprising are the reasons for this recommendation. 
That neither party can be expected to yield every 
thing, and own itself entirely in the wrong. 

Now, for what were the friends of law arming? 
To assail any one? To prostrate and destroy a 
press? No. To endanger the community? No. 
For what then? To defend an innocent fellow 
citizen's property and life, if assailed. Is there any 
thing so alarming in all this? What else ought a 
good citizen to do? Is there any thing to be con- 
ceded here? 

For what were the mob arming ? To break 
open a store, and destroy a press, and to fire the 
store and kill its defenders if resistance was made ! 
Ought not all this to be conceded by the mob? 

Now, do the committee think, that to require of 
them to abstain from such atrocious deeds, and to 
observe the laws, and to call on all good citizens to 
aid in defeating them if they attempted to execute 
their nefarious plans " falls short of the great end 
in view" and "demands too much of concession;" 
and that " neither party can be expected to yield 
every thing, and to acknowledge themselves ex- 
clusively in the wrong ?" 

Is it not then true, that the violator of law, who 
breaks open a house and destroys the property or 
life of his neighbor is exclusively in the wrong ? 


And if so, is it requiring too much to call on him to 
acknowledge the truth ? And is it too great a con- 
cession for a thief to stop stealing; or for any other 
miscreant to stop committing burglary, arson or mur- 
der ? The resolutions demanded nothing else; and 
do the committee think this too much ? 

Nor can I understand what the committee mean 
by a " mutual sacrifice of prejudices, opinions and 
interests," such " as led to the adoption of the great 
charter of American freedom." The parties in this 
case are, on the one hand the friends of law ; on the 
other, the mob. Between these it seems a compro- 
mise is to be effected like that which produced our 
national union. But how is this possible ? The 
great question on which compromise was needed 
came up between the free and the slave states. 
Which are to be represented by the mob, and which 
by the friends of law ? And what similarity is 
there in the cases ? It was in one case a union be- 
tween equal and independent states, none of whom 
had any power over the other, and yet the union 
was essential for mutual defense. Hence, rather 
than not unite, they let evils remain to remove 
which they had no power. Is this a reason why a 
community should concede impunity to their own 
citizens, over whom they have power when they 
violate the laws ? 

But omitting these considerations, what is the 
compromise recommended by the committee ? The 
friends of law were contending for nothing but a 
principle of infinite moment; and on the other hand 
the mob were aiming to overthrow it. And how 


is this matter to be compromised ? Why, the prin- 
ciple is to be given up and the mob are to carry 
the day ! It is essential, they say, to the peace of 
Alton that Mr. Lovejoy no longer edit a paper 
there. And is this a compromise ? What more 
had the mob ever asked than this ? For what else 
had they abused the person and destroyed the 
presses of Mr. Lovejoy ? Was it not to compel him 
to cease publishing a paper in Alton ? Was it not 
for this they had broken open and ravaged his of- 
fice and destroyed press after press ? Yet to this 
worthy party all that they ask is to be granted, and 
to the friends of law and order, nothing. Is this a 
compromise ? But it may be said, that, if the 
friends of Mr. Lovejoy had been willing to give 
him up, the citizens of Alton would have allowed 
them to have a religious paper at a suitable time, 
and under judicious editors and proprietors. But 
it was not for this they asked. They had a right to 
have it without any such leave. All that they ask- 
ed for was the maintenance of the principle, that no 
editor shall be silenced by a mob r and in losing this 
they lost all. And in giving up this point to the 
mob, the committee gave them all. 

And are we to suppose that the committee saw 
the full range of the tremendous principles here laid 
down ; or did some strange fatality blind their eyes ? 
Judging from their own report they were utterly 
unconscious of what they had done ; for they say, 

" That a strong confidence is entertained that our 
citizens will abstain from all undue excitements, 
discountenance every act of violence to person or 


property, and cherish a sacred regard for the great 
principles contained in our Bill of Rights." 

That they had such a strong confidence it does 
not become me to deny. But I may well ask, Had 
they any reason to expect such a result from any 
thing which they had done ? What had they done ? 
They had refused to recommend the maintenance 
of law ; had yielded to every demand of the mob, 
and had thrown the whole of their influence against 
those who were struggling to resist them: and 
then confidently hope for good order and peace! 
As well might they have bid the incendiary fire a 
city whilst the winds raged high and then expressed 
the confident hope that all its inhabitants would 
enjoy uninterrupted and tranquil repose. And as 
they sowed so did they reap. Let him who looks 
for evidence read the records of the following 
tuesday night ; and in the outrages of a drunken 
and infuriated mob, and in scenes of ARSON and 
MURDER he will find horrid and heart sickening 

It will be noticed that these resolutions are not 
designed to tell Mr. Lovejoy what as a Christian 
he ought to do: nor to express an opinion that he 
ought for the sake of the peace of Alton to give way 
to the mob. They had a right to express such an 
opinion if they thought so. But Mr. Lovejoy was 
still to be his own judge; and if he conscientiously 
decided not to go they were bound to defend him. 
But the resolutions were not addressed to him. 
They were addressed to citizens of Alton, and de- 
signed to mark out a course for them to pursue. 


Had it been their intention only to inform Mr. Love- 
joy that as a Christian he ought to give up his 
paper, and that his friends ought to consent; and 
that still, if they thought otherwise they would pro- 
tect him; they ought first of all to have passed a 
resolution assuring him of unconditional protection; 
and then to request him as a Christian to retire. 

But this they refused to do. The vote to protect 
him they could not recommend; and they did say 
that it was essential to the peace of Alton that he 
should not edit a paper there. And this they said, 
not to him, but to the citizens of Alton. 

I do not think that the main body of the com- 
mittee had any idea of the bearings of what they 
were to recommend. The fatal step that misled 
them was consenting for a moment to put the 
friends of law on a level with the mob ; and then to 
try to effect a compromise between them. From 
men so intelligent, who could have expected a mis- 
take so fatal ? In so plain a case as an attack of 
ruffians and robbers on an unoffending citizen, and 
through him on law and civil society itself it did 
seem to us that they would see, that the welfare of 
the whole country, nay of the civilized world, re- 
quired every good citizen to refuse to look at them in 
any other light than as parricides of their country; 
and not to degrade those who still revered the laws, 
even by insinuating that they were only a party on 
a level with a mob. Nor could we conceive what 
could be imagined or thought of in the way of com- 
promise. It did not occur to us that so intelligent a 
committee would advance so gross a doctrine as 


that a community has a right to absolve itself 
from the performance of its most solemn duties 
and call this a compromise. It seemed to us that 
the debtor might as well refuse to pay his debts, 
and call this a compromise. It seemed to us that 
protection is a debt due from community to every 
citizen; and that he has an undoubted right to 
claim it; and that it is more grossly absurd and 
unjust for a community to talk of compromising it 
away than for a debtor to propose to compromise 
away his debts. Still less did we imagine that 
a principle so flagrantly immoral would be dig- 
nified by a comparison with concessions made to 
each other by equal and independent states, none 
of whom were under any political obligation to 
come into union with- the rest: That the glorious 
union of our fathers would be sunk to the level of 
a union between the supporters and the violators of 
the law, on the ground that the supporters of the 
law should concede to its violators the full gratifica- 
tion of their wishes. Yet so it was. 

The idea that the supporters of Mr. Lovejoy were 
not acting as abolitionists, but as friends of law and 
good order, and that a large portion of them were 
not abolitionists, and that they were not a party, but 
merely friends of their country and opponents of 
mob law, does not seem to have occurred to the 
committee at all. 



After the report had been read by the Honorable 
chairman, one of the committee commented on it 
at some length: and seeming to assume it as capa- 
ble of no doubt that Mr. Lovejoy's friends must 
see the reasonableness of so generous a compro- 
mise, and its eminent adaptedness to promote the 
public peace; proceeded in a compassionate strain 
to express his sympathy for the unhappy man whose 
rights were to be sacrificed as a peace offering on 
the altar of the demon of anarchy. He regarded 
him as an unfortunate man, whose hand was 
against every man and every man's hand against 
him; and hoped that they would disgrace him as 
little as possible, and remember that he had a wife 
and family dependent upon him for support. He 
was as mild and calm as he knew how to be, for 
he seemed to think it was appropriate that he 
should be so whilst thus negociating such a treaty 
of peace. 

But the committee were not unanimous in these 
proceedings. There was one honourable exception, 
Mr. Winthrop S. Oilman. He immediately arose 
and laid in a decided protest, alleging it as his 
opinion "that the rigid enforcement of the law 
would prove the only sure protection of the rights 
of citizens; and the only safe remedy for similar 
excitements in future." 


As brother Lovejoy rose to reply to the speech 
above mentioned, I watched his countenance with 
deep interest, not to say anxiety. I saw no tokens 
of disturbance. With a tranquil, self possessed air, 
he went up to the bar within which the chairman 
sat, and in a tone of deep, tender and subdued feel- 
ing, spoke as follows: * 

" I feel, Mr. Chairman, that this is the most 
solemn moment of my life. I feel, I trust, in some 
measure the responsibilities which at this hour I 
sustain to these, my fellow citizens, to the church 
of which I am a minister, to my country, and to 
God. And let me beg of you before I proceed fur- 
ther to construe nothing I shall say as being disre- 
spectful to this assembly. I have no such feeling: 
far from it. And if I do not act or speak according 
to their wishes at all times, it is because I cannot 
conscientiously do it. 

" It is proper I should state the whole matter as 1 
understand it before this audience. I do not stand 
here to argue the question as presented by the re- 
port of the committee. My only wonder is that 
the Hon. gentlemant the chairman of that commit- 
tee, for whose character I entertain great respect, 
though I have not the pleasure of his person- 
al acquaintance, my only wonder is how that gen- 
tleman could have brought himself to submit such 
a report. 

* At my request immediately after the meeting he wrote down all 
that he could recall of his speech, which was extempore, ; I from mem- 
ory added the rest. 

f Hon. Cyrus Edwards, senator from Madison county and the whig 
candidate for governor. 



"Mr. Chairman, I do not admit that it is the busi- 
ness of tliis assembly to decide whether I shall or 
shall not publish a newspaper in this city. The 
gentlemen have, as the lawyers say, made a wrong 
issue. I have the right to do it. I know that I 
have the right freely to speak and publish my sen- 
timents, subject only to the laws of the land for the 
abuse of that right. This right was given me by my 
Maker; and is solemnly guarantied to me by the 
constitution of these United States and of this state. 
What I wish to know of you is whether you will 
protect me in the exercise of this right; or whether, 
as heretofore, I am to be subjected to personal in- 
dignity and outrage. These resolutions, and the 
measures proposed by them are spoken of as a com- 
promise a compromise between two parties. Mr. 
Chairman, this is not so. There is but one party 
here. It is simply a question whether the law 
shall be enforced, or whether the mob shall be 
allowed, as they now do, to continue to trample it 
under their feet, by violating with impunity the 
rights of an innocent individual. 

" Mr. Chairman, what have I to compromise ? If 
freely to forgive those who have so greatly injured 
me, if to pray for their temporal and eternal happi- 
ness, if still to wish for the prosperity of your city 
and state, notwithstanding all the indignities I have 
suffered in it; if this be the compromise intended, 
then do I willingly make it. My rights have been 
shamefully, wickedly outraged; this I know, and 
feel, and can never forget. But I can and do free- 
ly forgive those who have done it. 


But if by a compromise is meant that I should 
cease from doing that which duty requires of me, I 
cannot make it. And the reason is, that I fear God 
more than I fear man. Think not that I would 
lightly go contrary to public sentiment around me. 
The good opinion of my fellow men is dear to me, 
and I would sacrifice any thing but principle to ob- 
tain their good wishes; but when they ask me to 
surrender this, they ask for more than I can than 
I dare give. Reference is made to the fact that I 
offered a few days since to give up the editorship 
of the " Observer," into other hands. This is true, 
I did so, because it was thought or said by some 
that perhaps the paper would be better patronised 
in other hands. They declined accepting my offer, 
however, and since then we have heard from the 
friends and supporters of the paper in all parts of 
the state. There was but one sentiment among 
them. And this was that the paper could be sus- 
tained in no other hands than mine. It is also a very 
different question, whether I shall voluntarily, or at 
the request of friends, yield up my post; or wheth- 
er 1 shall forsake it at the demand of a mob. The 
former I am at all times ready to do, when circum- 
stances occur to require it, as I will never put my 
personal wishes or interests in competition with the 
cause of that Master whose minister I am. But 
the latter, be assured, I NEVER will do. God, in his 
providence so say all my brethren, and so I think 
has devolved upon me the responsibility of main- 
taining my ground here ; and, Mr. Chairman, I am 
determined to do it. A voice comes to me from 


Maine, from Massachusetts, from Connecticut, from 
; New-York, from Pennsylvania; yea from Kentucky, 
from Mississippi, from Missouri; calling upon me in 
the name of all that is dear in heaven or earth, to 
stand fast; and by the help of God, I WILL STAND. 
I know 1 am but one and you are many. My 
strength would avail but little against you all. You 
can crush me if you will; but I shall die at my post, 
for I cannot and will not forsake it. 

"Why should I flee from Alton ? .Is not this a 
free state ? When assailed by a mob at St. Louis, 
I came hither, as to the home of freedom and of 
the laws. The mob has pursued me here, and why 
should I retreat again ? Where can I be safe if not 
here ? Have not I a right to claim the protection 
of the laws ? What more can I have in any other 
place ? Sir, the very act of retreating will embol- 
den the mob to follow me wherever I go. No, sir; 
there is no way to escape the mob, but to abandon 
the path of duty; and that, God helping me, I will 
never do. 

" It has been said here, that my hand is against 
every man, and every man's hand against me. The 
last part of the declaration is too painfully true. I 
do indeed find almost every hand lifted against me; 
but against whom in this place has my hand been 
raised ? I appeal to every individual present; whom 
of you have I injured ? Whose character have I 
traduced ? Whose family have I molested ? Whose 
business have I meddled with ? If any, let him 
rise here and testify against me. No one an- 


" And do not your resolutions say that you find 
nothing against my private or personal character ? 
And does any one believe that if there was any 
thing to be found, it would not be found and brought 
forth ? If in any thing I have offended against the 
law, I am not so popular in this community as that 
it would be difficult to convict me. You have 
courts, and judges and juries; they find nothing 
against me. And now you come together for the 
purpose of driving out a confessedly innocent man, 
for no cause but that he dares to think and speak as 
his conscience and his God dictate. Will conduct 
like this stand the scrutiny of your country ? of pos- 
terity? above all, of the judgment-day? For re- 
member, the Judge of that day is no respecter of 
persons. Pause, I beseech you, and reflect. The 
present excitement will soon be over; the voice of 
conscience will at last be heard. And in some sea- 
son of honest thought, even in this world, as you 
review the scenes of this hour, you will be com- 
pelled to say, " He was right; he was right." 

" But you have been exhorted to be lenient and 
compassionate; and in driving me away to affix no 
unnecessary disgrace upon me. Sir, I reject all such 
compassion. You cannot disgrace me. Scandal 
and falsehood and calumny have already done their 
worst. My shoulders have borne the burthen till it 
sits easy upon them. You may hang me up, as the 
mob hung up the individuals of Vicksburgh ! You 
may burn me at the stake, as they did Mclntosh at 
St. Louis : or, you may tar and feather me, or 
throw me into the Mississippi, as you have often 
H 2 


threatened to do; but you cannot disgrace me. I, 
and I alone, can disgrace myself ; and the deepest 
of all disgrace would be, at a time like this, to deny 
my Master by forsaking his cause. He died for me; 
and I were most unworthy to bear his name, should 
I refuse, if need be, to die for him. 

" Again, you have been told that I have a family, 
who are dependent on me ; and this has been given 
as a reason, why I should be driven off as gently as 
possible. It is true, Mr. Chairman, I am a husband 
and a father; and this it is, that adds the bitterest 
ingredient to the cup of sorrow I am called to drink. 
I am made to feel the wisdom of the Apostle's ad- 
vice : " It is better not to marry." I know, sir, that 
in this contest I stake not my life only, but that of 
others also. I do not expect my wife will ever re- 
cover the shock received at the awful scenes, through 
which she was called to pass, at St. Charles. And 
how was it the other night, on my return to my 
house ? I found her driven to the garret, through 
fear of the mob, who were prowling round my 
house. And scarcely had I entered the house ere 
my windows were broken in by the brickbats of the 
mob ; and she so alarmed, that it was impossible for 
her to sleep or rest that night. I am hunted as a 
partridge upon the mountains. I am pursued as a 
felon through your streets; and to the guardian 
power of the law I look in vain for that protection 
against violence, which even the vilest criminal 
may claim. 

" Yet think not that I am unhappy. Think not 
that I regret the choice that I have made. While 


all around me is violence and tumult, all is peace 
within. An approving conscience, and the reward- 
ing smile of God, is a full recompense for all that I 
forego and all that 1 endure. Yes, sir, I enjoy a 
peace which nothing can destroy. I sleep sweetly 
and undisturbed, except when awaked by the brick- 
bats of the mob. 

" No, sir, I am not unhappy. I have counted the 
cost, and stand prepared freely to offer up my all in 
the service of God. Yes, sir, I am fully aware of 
all the sacrifice I make, in here pledging myself to 
continue this contest to the last. (Forgive these 
tears I had not intended to shed them and they 
flow not for myself but others.) But I am com- 
manded to forsake father and mother and wife and 
children for Jesus' sake: and as his professed dis- 
ciple I stand prepared to do it. The time for ful- 
filling this pledge in my case, it seems to me, has 
come. Sir, I dare not flee away from Alton. Should 
I attempt it, I should feel that the angel of the Lord 
with his flaming sword was pursuing me wherever 
I went. It is because I fear God that I am not 
afraid of all who oppose me in this city. No, sir, 
the contest has commenced here ; and here it must 
be finished. Before God and you all, I here pledge 
myself to continue it, if need be, till death. If I 
fall, my grave shall be made in Alton." 

I have been affected oftentimes with the power 
of intellect and eloquence ; but never was I so over- 
come as at this hour. He made no display; there 
was no rhetorical decoration; no violence of action. 


All was native truth, and deep pure and tender feet- 
ing. Many a hard face did I see wet with tears, as 
he struck the chords of feeling to which God made 
the soul to respond. Even his bitter enemies wept. 
As for me I could not endure it. I laid down my 
head and gave way to my feelings without control. 
When he had closed I could not doubt that the whole 
audience was convinced that he was right; and that, 
if the authors of the report would have said so, and 
exhorted to defend him, it would have carried the 
whole audience with electric power. 

But no ! their whole influence was again to be 
thrown against the law and right : and a minister 
of the gospel was to lead the way. 

As the reverend gentleman arose to reply, it seem- 
ed to me that he found it hard to rally his powers 
and return to the charge; but at last he did; and 
endeavored to bring in the holy word of God to aid 
in such a cause. 

His main position was, that all things that were 
right were not, of course, expedient; which, to sub- 
serve his purpose, must mean that, although the 
principles of rectitude require a community to de- 
fend its members, yet it is not always expedient so 
to do. Accordingly, he seemed to think it of no use 
to contend for abstract rights. He mentioned the 
case of the brethren who let Paul down the walls 
of Damascus in a basket when persecuted by the 
city authorities under Aretas a Roman officer, as 
a precedent for the supporters of Mr. Lovejoy to 
follow here. As though he considered Alton a 
heathen city; and the civil authorities, with the 


mayor at their head, backed up by the power of the 
Union, were the persecutors. Otherwise the case 
is nothing to the point. He, in fact, first exhorted 
a Christian city not to protect Mr. Lovejoy; and 
then exhorted his friends on this precedent, to aid 
him to flee ; because, forsooth, they would not pro- 
tect him. He also alluded to Mr. Ldvejoy's pledge: 
but was corrected by Rev. F. W. Graves; who stated, 
without contradiction, that Mr. Lovejoy expressly 
reserved to himself the right to say what he should 
think fit on the subject. Who also stated the change 
in Mr. Lovejoy's opinions, his communication to 
the leading friends and supporters of the paper, and 
their advice to him to proceed as he thought best. 
He also stated the reasons why the friends of the 
Observer considered it a duty not to retreat, and re- 
ferred to the state of public opinion in all parts of 
the Union as sanctioning their course. 

A member of the committee now rose and deliv 
ered a speech unequaled by any thing I ever heard 
for an excited, bitter, vindictive spirit. The reason 
for his change of manner seemed to lie in the fact, 
that although he and his friends had gone so far in 
making most generous compromises; yet Mr. Love- 
joy and his supporters actually refused to make any 
at all. He seemed to think that therefore the truce 
was now broken ; and that he was authorized to come 
down on the abolitionists in great wrath, which he 
accordingly did. He assailed Mr. Lovejoy's char- 
acter and motives, and those of his friends, in a style 
of violent invective, such as I had never heard be- 
fore. He seemed desirous of lashing the assembly 


into instant fury; and threatened to proclaim hostil- 
ity against the abolitionists in all the intercourse of 
social life ; and to sunder all the ties which bound 
them to society. He endeavored to represent the 
public sentiment in the nation in behalf of law and 
order as expressed by the press, as an outrageous 
attempt to force an editor on them whom they did 
not like: and calledon them to resist the usurpation. 
Finally, he withdrew all of his part of the com- 
promise as it regards a paper, and offered a reso- 
lution not only that the Alton Observer should 
not be continued, but that no paper of like spirit 
and principles, should be published in the place. 
He also stated in this, or in some subsequent speech, 
that it was not Mr. Lovejoy against whom they 
objected, but his principles : and that if any man, 
even Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, or Andrew 
Jackson should come there to discuss them, it would 
make no difference. 

Of the truth of this sentiment there can be no 
doubt. I had long been convinced of it, though 
I did not expect that any one would be so impoli- 
tic as publicly to confess it before the world. It 
deserves the candid attention of certain editors, who 
would fain have us believe that had it not been for 
Mr. Lovejoy's imprudences, he might have printed 
what he would. 

The chairman of the committee seemed to be 
somewhat alarmed at the violence of his coadjutor, 
and rose to remonstrate against the passage of the 
resolution and the intemperance of the speaker. He 
adverted to the need of calmness in our delibera- 


tions, and to the disgrace which would ensue, 
"should the meeting break up in a row." The 
motion was laid on the table, but finally adopted. 

Judge Hawley, who followed, took true and hon- 
orable ground on the subject of free inquiry; and 
as a false impression has been extensively received 
on the subject, it ought distinctly to be stated to his 
credit, that, though he declared his disbelief either 
of the truth or utility of the sentiments of the aboli- 
tionists; yet he maintained that they ought to have 
the rights of free inquiry, arid of publishing what 
they would. He said he should not care if they 
paved the streets of Alton with their papers: if he 
did not believe them he would not read them: and 
his design in his resolution was to disapprove of 
illegal violence, without committing himself as an 
abolitionist: and he offered it as a substitute for the 
report of the committee. 

The discussion then became general and desui- 
tory, during which many remarks were made 
severely reflecting on Mr. Lovejoy. By a mem- 
ber of the committee a professor of religion and 
an eastern man he was compared to one of the 
deluded votaries of the impostor Matthias, who was 
really pious but led away by enthusiastic excite- 
ment. By another speaker he was compared to an 
insane person, who in court deemed all around him 
insane but himself. And after the effects of Mr. 
Lovejoy 's appeal had thus been obliterated; and 
that very much by the aid of professedly pious men; 
the resolutions against him and his paper were 


carried; and all the items included in the so called 
compromise with his supporters were withdrawn. 

The mayor proposed the following vote: 

"Resolved, that as citizens of Alton, and the 
friends of order, peace and constitutional law, we 
regret that persons and editors from abroad have 
seen proper to interest themselves so conspicuously 
in the discussion and agitation of a question, in 
which our city is made the principal theatre." 

Against whom it was designed to operate each 
man was left to judge for himself: but as it was 
passed by acclamation it was evidently understood 
to reflect on all persons or editors who had censured 
the proceedings of the mob and endeavored as 
friends to the place to arouse its citizens to a sense 
of duty. In its bearings on myself it was not emin- 
ently decorous after I had been invited by the ori- 
ginators of the meeting to attend. 

In conclusion, it is only to be noted that, when a 
resolution was proposed, pledging themselves, to aid 
the mayor in case of violence it was objected to as 
needless, since it was already their duty so to do. 
Notwithstanding this standing obligation to aid in 
suppressing violence, they had already resolved so 
to do until this meeting: and when a resolution 
of the same import was again proposed they refus- 
ed to pass it. Comment is needless. Nor need we 
wonder at the result. What else could be expected 
after a report, declining to recommend the mainten- 
ance of law in defense of the rights of Mr. Love- 
joy, had been made by so intelligent a committee, 
and adopted by the assembly? 


Thus closed this remarkable meeting. As calling 
out an effervescence of excited feeling it has no- 
thing to distinguish it from other tumultuous popu- 
lar assemblies. But in one particular it will, it is 
devoutly to be hoped, remain peculiar and alone. 
It was called to act on principles than which none 
can be conceived more sacred and more indispensa- 
ble : to maintain all that man holds dear on earth. 
These principles were distinctly laid before them; 
and they were solemnly warned that the eyes 
of the nation and of the world were upon them; 
and an opportunity was before them for obtaining 
glory that should never die. Still, in view of it all, 
they chose to occupy the ground on which they 
now stand; and on it to await the judgment of 
the civilized world. What that judgment will be, 
no one can doubt who reflects on the purpose of 
God to emancipate the world by the truth: and that 
his purposes are defeated so soon as the right of free 
discussion expires. 

The ultimate effects of the meeting we soon shall 
see. The immediate effect of brother Lovejoy's 
speech was very remarkable and decided. In spite 
of prejudice it extorted an involuntary tribute of 
respect for his loftiness of soul, and caused an ab- 
solute certainty in every mind, of friend or foe, 
that he would never abandon his post. That ques- 
tion it settled. I could see and feel that on that 
point all doubt had left every mind. There may 
have been, and probably was, previously, a hope 
that by constant efforts to intimidate and annoy 
him, he might be induced finally to leave Alton. 


But I could see that that hope was thoroughly ex- 
tinguished in every heart. That view of the sub- 
ject was dropped; and all conversation proceeded 
upon the supposition that no one expected it. 

It was of course a necessary conclusion that, ei- 
ther his antagonists would finally relinquish their 
efforts in despair, or arouse themselves to a decided 
attempt to destroy him. Which they would do it 
was hard to decide. From many things which I 
saw during the following three days I was led to 
hope that they were disposed to relinquish their 
efforts. One of the most influential of them was 
Overheard to say, that it was of no use to go on 
destroying presses, as there was money enough at 
the east to bring new ones as fast as they could de- 
stroy them; and that it was best to let the fanatics 
alone. I hoped they would do so; and so did Br. 
Lovejoy. But God saw fit to disappoint our hopes. 
The days that I was there spending with him were 
destined to be the last of his life. His work was 
nearly done; the hour of his martyrdom and of his 
reward was near at hand. 


Let us proceed to the closing scene. Fully to 
understand the course of events, the division made 
of the community, in giving an account of the meet- 
ing, should be borne in mind: and to that division 


another class should now be added; the magistrates 
of the city. 

Mr. Lovejoy having decided on his course, the 
friends of law and order made their arrangements 
for the defence of his press. Personal violence, or 
an attempt to murder him was not expected. It 
was supposed that the main eifort, if any were made, 
would be to destroy the press as it was landed. We 
all felt that if once deposited in Godfrey & Oilman's 
store it would be safe. Great difficulty was en- 
countered in obtaining a special constable to direct 
the friends of law in case of an attack, under the 
authority of the mayor. The mayor himself did 
not refuse to act; but as it might be inconvenient to 
find him when most needed, it was considered im- 
portant to have one of the supporters of the press 
appointed as special constable on any sudden emer- 
gency. Though the mayor acceded to the proposal 
it was from time to time delayed, and finally it was 
not carried into effect. The mayor, however, still con- 
sented to direct their movement when called upon. 

On monday, Mr. W. S. Gilman was informed that 
the press was at St. Louis on board a boat which 
would probably arrive at Alton about evening. He 
immediately sent an express to the captain of the 
boat requesting him to delay the hour of his arrival 
until three o'clock at night, in order to avoid an 
affray with the rioters. This movement was suc- 
cessful. The spies of the mob watched for the 
arrival of boats for some time; but late in the eve- 
ning seemed to give up the expectation of any ar- 
rival that night, and retired. 


Meantime the supporters of the press met at M -, 
Oilman's store to the number of thirty or more; and ? 
as before stated, organized themselves into a volun- 
teer company according to law, and spent the night 
in the store. At the appointed hour the boat ar- 
rived, and the press was safely landed; the mayor 
being present. All arrangements had been made 
with such judgment, and the men were stationed at 
such commanding points, that an attack would have 
been vain. But it was not made. A horn was in- 
deed sounded, but no one came. 

Shortly after the hour fixed on for the landing of 
the boat, Mr. Lovejoy arose and called me to go 
with him to see what was the result. The moon 
had set and it was still dark, but day was near; and 
here and there a light was glimmering from the 
window of some sick room, or of some early riser. 
The streets were empty and silent, and the sounds 
of our feet echoed from the walls as we passed 
along. Little did he dream, at that hour, of the con- 
test which the next night would witness: that these 
same streets would echo with the shouts of an infuri- 
ate mob, and be stained with his own heart's blood ! 

We found the boat there and the press in the 
warehouse; aided in raising it to the third story. 
We were all rejoiced that no conflict had ensued, 
and that the press was safe ; and all felt that the 
crisis was over. We were sure that the store could 
not be carried by storm by so few men as had ever 
yet acted in a mob; and though the majority of the 
citizens would not aid to defend the press we had 
no fear that they would aid in an attack. So deep 


was this feeling that it was thought that a small 
number was sufficient to guard the press afterward; 
and it was agreed that the company should be 
divided into sections of six, and take turns on suc- 
cessive nights. As they had been up all night, Mr. 
Lovejoy and myself offered to take charge of the 
press till morning; and they retired. 

The morning soon began to dawn; and that 
morning I shall never forget. Who that has stood 
on the banks of the mighty stream that then rolled 
before me can forget the emotions of sublimity that 
filled his heart, as in imagination he has traced those 
channels of intercourse opened by it and its branch- 
es through the illimitable regions of this western 
world ? I thought of future ages, and of the count- 
less millions that should dwell on this mighty stream; 
and that nothing but the truth would make them 
free. Never did I feel as then the value of the 
right for which we were contending: thoroughly to 
investigate and fearlessly to proclaim that truth. 
0, the sublimity of moral power ! By it God sways 
the universe. By it he will make the nations free. 

I passed through the scuttle to the roof and as- 
cended to the highest point of the wall. The sky 
and the river were beginning to glow with ap- 
proaching day, and the busy hum of business to 
be heard. I looked with exultation on the scenes 
below. I felt that a bloodless battle had been gain- 
ed for God and for the truth; and that Alton was 
redeemed from eternal shame. And as all around 
grew brighter with approaching day, I thought of 
that still brighter sun, even now dawning on the 



world, and soon to bathe it with floods of glorious 

Brother Lovejoy, too, was happy. He did not 
exult : he was tranquil and composed: but his 
countenance indicated the state of his mind. It 
was a calm and tranquil joy, for he trusted in God 
that the point was gained: that the banner of an 
unfettered press would soon wave over that migh- 
ty stream. 

Vain hopes! How soon to be buried in a mar- 
tyr's grave. Vain! did I say? No: they are not 
vain. Though dead he still speaketh; and a uni- 
ted world can never silence his voice. Ten thou- 
sand presses, had he employed them all, could never 
have done what the simple tale of his death will 
do. Up and down the mighty streams of the west 
his voice will go : it will penetrate the remotest cor- 
ner of our land: it will be heard to the extremities 
of the civilized world. From henceforth no boat 
will pass the spot where he fell, heedless of his 
name, or of his sentiments, or of the cause for 
which he died. And if God in his mercy shall use 
this event to arouse a slumbering nation to main- 
tain the right for which he died, he will look down 
from the throne of his glory on the scene of his 
martyrdom and say, It is enough : truth is trium- 
phant : the victory is gained. 

We returned to his house, and before my depar- 
ture we united in prayer. His wife, through weak 
ness, had not risen. In her chamber we met in the 
last act of worship in which we were to unite on 
earth. I commended him and his family to the 


care of God. As I left her I cheered her with the 
hope that her days of trial were nearly over and 
that more tranquil hours were at hand. Cheered 
by these hopes I bade them and my other friends 
farewell, and began my journey homeward. On 
my way I heard passing rumors of a meditated at- 
tack on the store ; but gave them no weight. The 
events of a few hours proved them but too well 

Of the tragical catastrophe I was not a spectator; 
but after careful inquiry of eyewitnesses * I shall 
proceed to narrate the leading facts. 

From the statement of the mayor it seems that 
an attack was apprehended; and that the matter 
was laid before the common council, and that they 
did not deem it necessary to take any action on the 

On account of the fatigue and watching of the 
preceding night, most of the defenders of the press 
who were in the store the night before were absent; 
and others took their place. The number was 
larger than at first intended in consequence of an 
increased apprehension of an attack. Their appre- 
hensions were realized. An attack was commenced 
at about ten o'clock at night. 

In order to render the narrative more clear it is 
necessary to say a few words concerning the struc- 
ture and location of the store. It consisted of two 
long stone buildings, side by side, in one block, ex- 

* In addition to the mayor's statement I have chiefly relied on Mr. 
Gilman and Mr. Weller. 


tending from the landing in Water street back to 
Second street; with doors and windows at each 
gable end, but with no windows at the sides. Hence 
it can be defended at the ends from within, but not 
at the sides. The roofs are of wood. The lots on 
each side being vacant, these stores form a detached 
block, accessible on every side 

About ten o'clock a mob, already armed, came 
and formed a line at the end of the store in Water 
street, and hailed those within. Mr. Gilman open- 
ed the end door of the third story, and asked what 
they wanted. They demanded the press. He, of 
course, refused to give it up ; and earnestly entreat- 
ed them to use no violence. He told them that the 
property was committed to his care ; and that they 
should defend it at the risk and sacrifice of their 
lives. At the same time they had no ill will against 
them, and should deprecate doing them an injury. 
One of them, a leading individual among the friends 
of free inquiry at the late convention, replied, that 
they would have it at the sacrifice of their lives, and 
presented a pistol at him: upon which he retired. 

They then went to the other end of the store and 
commenced an attack. They demolished two or 
three windows with stones and fired two or three 
guns. As those within threw back the stones, one 
without was distinctly recognised and seen taking 
aim at one within : for it was a moonlight eve- 
ning and persons could be distinctly seen and 

A few guns were then fired by individuals from 
within, by which Lyman Bishop, one of the mob, 


was killed. The story that he was a mere stranger 
waiting for a boat, and that Mr. Lovejoy shot him, 
are alike incapable of proof. He was heard during 
the day by a person in whose employ he was, to 
express his intention to join the mob. 

After this the mob retired for a few moments, 
and then returned with ladders which they lashed 
together to make them the proper length, and pre- 
pared to set fire to the roof. 

About this time the mayor having been informed 
of the riot, came on to the ground: but having few 
to sustain him, was unable to compel the rioters to 
desist by force. They requested him to go into the 
store, and state to its defenders, that they were de- 
termined to have the press; and would not desist 
until they had accomplished their object; arid agreed 
to suspend operations until his return. Attended 
by a justice of the peace he entered and delivered 
the message of the mob. 

Suppose now it had been delivered up by its de- 
fenders and destroyed. How remarkable the nar- 
rative must have been, of a press given up to the 
mob to be destroyed by the agency of the mayor 
and a justice of the peace ! 

However, they did not give it up. Mr. Gilman 
requested the mayor to call on certain citizens, to 
see if they could not prevent the destruction of the 
building. He said he could not: he had used his 
official authority in vain. He then asked him 
whether he should continue to defend the property 
by arms. This the mayor as he had previously 
done, authorised him to do. The mayor and the 


justice were then informed that the press would not 
be given up: and the decision was by them com- 
municated to the mob. They then proceeded to fire 
the roof ; taking care to keep on the side of the store 
where they were secure from the fire of those within. 
It now became evident to the defenders that 
their means of defense, so long as they remained 
within, was cut off; and nothing remained but to 
attack the assailants without. It was a hazardous 
step; but they determined to take it. A select 
number, of whom Mr. Lovejoy was one, under- 
took the work. They went out at the end, turned 
the corner, and saw one of the incendiaries on the 
ladder, and a number standing at the foot. They 
fired and it is supposed wounded, but did not kill 
him; and then, after continuing their fire some 
minutes and dispersing the mob, returned to load 
their guns. When they went out again no one was 
near the ladder, the assailants having so secreted 
themselves as to be able to fire, unseen, on the de- 
fenders of the press as they came out. No assailants 
being in sight Mr. Lovejoy stood, and was looking 
round. Yet, though he saw no assailant, the eye of his 
murderer was on him. The object of hati'ed, deep, 
malignant and long continued, was fully before him 
and the bloody tragedy was consummated. Five balls 
were lodged in his body, and he soon breathed his 
last. Yet after his mortal wound he had strength re- 
maining to return to the building and ascend one flight 
of stairs before he fell and expired. They then at- 
tempted to capitulate, but were refused with curses 
by the mob, who threatened to burn the store and 


shoot them as they came out. Mr. Roff now de- 
termined at all hazards to go out and make some 
terms, but he was wounded as soon as he- set his 
foot over the threshold. 

The defenders then held a consultation. They 
were shut up within the building, unable to resist 
the ferocious mode of attack now adopted, and 
seemed devoted to destruction. At length Mr. 
West came to the door, informed them that the 
building was actually on fire, and urged them to 
escape by passing down the river bank; saying that 
he would stand between them and the assailants so 
that if they fired they must fire on him. This was 
done. All but two or three marched out and ran 
down Water street, being fired on by the mob as 
they went. Two, who were wounded, were left 
in the building, and one who was not, remained to 
take care of the body of their murdered brother. 
The mob then entered, destroyed the press and re- 
tired. Among them were seen some of those leading 
" friends of free inquiry" who had taken an active 
part in the convention. 

Before these tragic scenes were ended, the streets 
were crowded with spectators. They came out to 
see the winding up of the plot, but not to aid in re- 
pressing violence or maintaining the law. The vote 
to aid the mayor in suppressing violence they had 
Defused to pass, because it was their duty to aid 
without it: and here we see how powerful their 
sense of duty was. The time of the conflict was 
from one hour and a half to two hours. During 


this time the bells were rung, and a general notice 
given; and yet none came to the rescue. It has 
been said however, in extenuation of this inactivity 
that it was owing to a want of concert and arrange- 
ment among the citizens, or by the police. No man 
knew on whom he might call to aid in suppressing 
the riot ; and some who have professed that it was 
their desire to do so, say that they were hindered 
by the apprehension that they might be only rally- 
ing the mob in the attempt to quell it. 

The feelings exhibited by the mob were in keep- 
ing with the deed on which they were intent. Oaths, 
curses, blasphemy and malignant yells, broke upon 
the silence of the night as they prosecuted their 
work of death. But even passions so malignant, 
were not enough to give them the hardihood and 
recklessness needed for their work. To drench con- 
science, blind reason, and arouse passion to its high- 
est fury by the intoxicating cup, was needed to fit 
them for the consummation of their work. The lead- 
ers in this business were adepts; they knew what 
means were adapted to their ends, and used them 
without stint or treason. 

Thus closes a tragedy without parallel in the his- 
tory of our land. In other popular excitements, 
there has been an equal amount of feeling : in some 
blood has been shed. But never was there an avow- 
ed effort to overthrow the foundations of human 
society pushed to such bloody results : and that, on 
principles adapted so utterly to dissolve the social 
system, and plunge the nation into anarchy and blood . 



The leading facts of the case are now before the 
public. And in view of these facts, one main ques- 
tion arises: Who are responsible, not merely legal- 
ly but morally, for such deeds of unparalleled atro- 
city as have been narrated ? On the one hand efforts 
have been made to throw the responsibility on Mr. 
Lovejoy; on the convention; on myself; or, on all 
of us united. On the other hand it is maintained 
that the responsibility of these transactions rests first 
of all on the guilty agents: and next on all who ex- 
cited, instigated or countenanced; or who did not 
rebuke and oppose them in their guilty deeds. 

In order to come to a correct conclusion we must 
take enlarged views of all the principles involved: 
and of the series of events taken as a whole ; and in 
all its relations to the existing condition of ihe Chris- 
tian world. 

There are those whose minds are so constantly 
under the influence of the narrow, limited local in- 
terests around them, that the lofty standard of eter- 
nal, immutable truth and duty is by them disregard- 
ed or unknown. Whose only divinity is wealth or 
popular applause; and who "with an eastern devo- 
tion kneel at the shrine of their idolatry." To all 
such 1 have nothing to say. 

K 109 


But I thank God, all are not such. That our na- 
tion as a mass is not utterly fallen and degraded 
that a noble host of lofty spirits still remains. I 
speak of no party, <jf no locality, of no section of 
our land. I speak of the redeeming spirit, which I 
trust in God pervades it all; and the power of \vhich 
is still felt in every party of every name. No: all 
are not thus sunk and degraded. Multitudes there 
are who still can rise above the narrowness of local 
interests, and party prejudice, and allow their minds 
to move in the current of the destinies of the hu- 
man race : who can recognize the sublimity of prin- 
ciple, and with prophetic foresight anticipate the 
judgment of future ages on great moral questions; 
who have not yet bowed the knee of idolatry at the 
shrine of popular favor, or of mammon; who ad- 
mit that there are higher principles of action than 
mere political expediency, or the voice of a crowd; 
who reverence the immutable and eternal principles 
of right; and believe that there is a law higher than 
all human laws : and who are not ashamed, with 
Blackstone, and Grotius, and Vattel, and all the 
great founders and expounders of national and mu- 
nicipal law, to believe that " this law, being dictated 
by God himself, is superior in obligation to any oth- 
er; is binding over over all the globe, in all coun- 
tries, at all times; and that no human laws are of 
any validity if contrary to this." 

To all such I appeal. To all who are not asham- 
ed of the spirit of their fathers, who considered true 
freedom the noblest gift of God; even that freedom 
which guaranties to every man the full exercise of 


the loftiest of human rights the right fully to know, 
and fearlessly to proclaim and to do the will of God: 
the right to regard the opinions of that One as of 
more weight than the universe besides: and the 
right to do His will though the public sentiment of 
millions oppose. 

To such I appeal. Such I know there are. 
Though as a nation we have long been sinking from 
the lofty ground of principle with which we began; 
though the cursed love of gold has left to multitudes 
no standard of right and wrong but dollars and 
cents; and the thirst for political promotion has left 
to others no criterion of truth but the opinions of the 
majority, however profligate; I trust there are some 
left, who still believe that their souls belong to none 
but God and the truth: and who by the grace of 
God are determined to resist, even unto death, the 
tyranny, which would compel the soul to forego 
communion with the loftiest spirits of all ages; shut 
it out from participation in the mightiest movements 
of the age: yea, and prohibit it from being a co- 
worker with God in the execution of his vast de 
signs of renovating a mined world. 

To all such I shall submit the following positions; 
which, in view of the preceding facts, I shall en- 
deavor to maintain: 

That the great discussion which gave rise to 
these transactions is an essential part of the move- 
ment of the providence of God in the present age 
of the world; and that to evade it is impossible; to 
oppose it, vain. 


That to the manner in which it came up in 
this state there is no just ground of objection. 

That the first development of mob violence has 
not even a plausible pretext for its justification: and 
to palliate it, connive at it, or attempt to justify it, 
is treason, both against God and man. 

That after the first development of violence, 
every possible effort was made, in a cool, kind, tem- 
perate and judicious way, to arrest its course by 
plans of conciliation and concession; and by efforts 
to unite the wise and the good against the lawless 
and riotous disturbers of the peace. 

That these efforts were defeated by a spirit of 
intolerance and persecution, that rejected all con- 
ciliation or compromise; that excluded all argument; 
and would be satisfied with nothing but the entire 
and unconditional surrendry of the noblest rights 
and privileges of the human mind. 

That all hopes of evading this spirit by re- 
treat was vain; that to retire before it, would 
but give it new malignity and power; and that 
there was no alternative but to defeat it there, or, 
by falling in the contest, compel it to disclose to 
the civilized world its real nature and its malignant 

That in conducting this opposition, our princi- 
ples were sound and judicious; such as have re- 
ceived the united approbation of the civilized world; 
and that the efforts made by many to excite odium 
against them, can be the result of nothing but inex- 
cusable prejudice or malignity. 


That there cannot be, to a candid mind, the 
slightest reason to question on whom the whole 
guilt of these transactions rests. 


In remarking upon these points, it is not at all my 
design to argue the main question of abolitionism. 
I shall say nothing on that subject except what is 
necessary, as a matter of self-defense. But to do 
this it is essential that we should fully state what 
we consider the relations of the subject in question 
to the present age. Otherwise no one can appreci- 
ate the motives in view of which we acted; or judge 
of the propriety or prudence of our course. 

Let then the first great question be fairly met. 
Is not a full discussion of this subject a part of the 
plans of God ? Does it not belong to the movement 
of his providence in the present age ? Has not his 
Spirit brought it up ? Is not he determined that it 
shall be discussed and decided ? Has he not a right 
so to determine ? Is it not a duty to obey his will ? 
And can it be wise or prudent to attempt to arrest 
a discussion which he has determined to bring on ? 

The present age has its characteristics. The 
course of the providence of God is clear and distinct; 
the signs of the times are not ambiguous: they may 
easily be known. 

x 2 


Who can deny, that the tendency of the age is, 
to make one sublime and simple truth the regula- 
ting principle of all human society: that in the 
very nature of the human mind, and in the relations 
of man to God, there is a foundation laid for certain 
immutable duties and rights; that the relations of 
the individual to God are higher and more sacred 
than any other relations ; and that, as God has made 
it the duty of every individual to live for him, so it 
is the immutable right of every human being to be 
free to do it ? 

Who, I say, can deny this ? Is it not a notorious 
fact, that, since the Reformation, the great subjects 
of the age have been religion and government ? 
And that the central principle of all this discussion 
has been individual unalienable rights ? rights, 
not created by human governments; but given by 
God in the creative act by which he made man a 
free moral agent, whose highest duty and happiness 
was to know and do the will of his God. 

And why should it not be so ? If it is God's 
purpose to convert the world, what can he do so 
directly to prepare the way, as to revive in the hu- 
man mind a deep and full conviction of these rights ? 
They are the very basis of all religion. No man can 
be converted to God who does not recognize them. 
That God has on him higher claims than father or 
mother, or brother or sister, or ruler or people : and 
that, as it is his duty at all hazards to obey God, so 
it is his right. In short, that it is the inalienable 
right of every human being to live for the great end 
for which God made him j and in accordance with 


the laws of the nature which God gave him. Who, 
I say, can deny that all this is true ? 

And now, if there is on earth a system of laws, 
which daily authorizes the violation of every funda- 
mental right of millions of human beings, without 
protection or redress: which authorises the destruc- 
tion of all rights of knowledge, of conscience, of 
marriage and family, of chastity, of property, of re- 
putation and influence, and of protection against 
personal abuse; and in its own nature tends to ren- 
der this violation certain : if there be such a system, 
I ask, is it not in the way of all the designs of God, 
and of the whole tide and current of his providence 
in the present age ? Especially if placed in the 
very focal point of illumination for the world, on the 
great subject of inalienable rights. If the funda- 
mental principles of individual rights, on which our 
systems are based are not false; or if God does not 
mean to curse the world by loading them with dis- 
grace ; if he does not mean to roll back the wheels of 
time, and plunge the nations in a second night of 
ages; can he, will he allow such a system to remain ? 

But how shall it be removed ? This is a great 
question of moral reformation; and one on which 
nothing but experience can throw light. Hence he 
has called up the attention of the world to it; and 
put in train a vast course of experiments. This 
has been carried on in all circumstances, and in 
every variety of condition: and has at last worked 
out one uniform result. It has disclosed a set of 
principles, founded, as we think, on nature ; and in 
strict accordance with the laws of the mind and the 


dictates of political economy; and which have been 
tested by experience again and again. They are 

That to continue such a system of law, in order 
that under its influence slaves may gradually be 
prepared for freedom, is ridiculous, hopeless and ab- 
surd: for the system has no tendencies but to unfit 
for freedom, and to degrade. 

That to suppose that the continuance of such a 
system is essential to the safety of the masters, is to 
assume, in direct violation of the word, and entire 
disregard of the providence of God, that it is ever 
more safe to do wrong than to do right. Again, 

That to abolish this system at once, and to replace 
it by a wise and equitable system of legislation, in 
which the slave shall be restored to his rank and his 
rights as a man and an immortal being; a system 
adapted alike to defend the community against va- 
grancy and idleness, and to enlighten, elevate, em- 
ploy and protect the emancipated as free laborers, 
is reasonable, practicable, safe and a duty: and that 
no man has a right, voluntarily, to keep any human 
being under such a system of law, under pretence 
of doing him good, for every such pretext is vain. 

Now, it is not my purpose to argue the truth or 
falsehood of these views. All I affirm is, that the 
exigencies of the age require that they should be 
fairly discussed: and that to hold them is no crime. 
We are bound at least fairly to discuss them accor- 
ding to the immutable principles of eternal right. 
We are bound solemnly to raise, and prayerfully to 
discuss the question; Are they not the views of God ? 


We are not of course to conclude that, if they are 
tne views of God they would not be opposed. Has 
God never been opposed on earth ? Did the fact 
that Christ taught the pure will of God shield him 
from persecution and death ? But to whom am I 
speaking ? I thought that at least the followers of 
Christ had not forgotten that God's whole work on 
earth is to subdue a hostile world : and the fact 
that any system of opinions is hated by the wicked, 
the dissolute, the ambitious, the proud, and the 
avaricious, is strong presumptive evidence that 
it is of God: and that those professors of religion 
who take a ground which all such will extol have 
deep reason to fear that they are even fighting 
against God. " If ye were of the world the world 
would love its own, but because ye are not of the 
world, but I have chosen you out of the world, 
therefore the world hateth you," is the criterion of 
discipleship given by Christ. How can those pro- 
fessed Christians fail to tremble who carry about 
them such a damning evidence of hostility to the 
cause of God, as the applauses of a mob ? 

But if it should at last prove true, as we are sure 
it will, that these are the opinions of God; is it im- 
prudent to hold, or to discuss them ? What if a 
corrupt public sentiment does oppose ? Is it impru- 
dent to fear God more than man ? Is it imprudent 
to refuse to follow a multitude to do evil ? To what 
deadly results are the habits of the day about to 
bring us ? Is there then no standard of right and 
wrong but the voice of a mob ? 

Yet this, the question of all questions, is the only 


one which those who bring such multiplied charges 
of imprudence against us have failed to raise. They 
think of nothing but popular opinion: outraging 
public sentiment: and fail to inquire whether this 
public sentiment is right or wrong ? whether it is 
for God, or against him ? 

And is it to prevent the discussion of opinions 
like these, that all the foundations of society must 
be dissolved: that odium and bitter persecution 
must be aroused: and rights guarantied by God 
must be trodden under foot ? Take off, take off, I 
beseech you, the veil of prejudice and look at them 
once more. 

They have been hooted at as a mere theory; 
they have been derided as chimerical; and their ad- 
vocates have been subjected to obloquy and con- 
tempt, as a mere insignificant fraction of the civili- 
zed world; and the very idea of discussing them 
treated with scorn. 

That these views are true, I need not now at- 
tempt to prove. It is enough that they are not too 
palpably absurd to be discussed. And who dares 
make such an assertion of views like these ? Views, 
which are not a mere theory; but originate from 
the very nature of the human mind, and from the 
immutable relations of man to God. Not a chime- 
rical, untried, visionary plan of reformation; but 
the result of the experience of the civilized world 
for the last fifty years; which have all been tested 
by facts; in favor of which all facts testify with 
united voice not one against them. The adro- 


cates of which, though here a despised minority, 
are not a small party among the wise and good of 
the age; but are the vast majority in the civilized 
world. Views which have not been brought up 
out of time and place, and against the current of 
the age; but by the great movements of the human 
mind, and the irresistible course of the provi- 
dence of God. Views, too, on which our own in- 
stitutions are founded. 

Now what we ask is, not that any be compelled 
to believe these opinions; but that the mere fact of 
believing and exhibiting them be not stigmatized as 
fanatical, incendiary, treasonable, and deserving 
of nothing but mobs, outrage and death. Is it pos- 
sible, that in a country, professing to be free; 
where the people make all the laws, and can of 
course repeal them; and where in every constitution 
the idea of change is not only held out but the mode 
of making it prescribed, we are to be told that all 
these invitations to free inquiry are so much solemn 
mockery ? That the character of these laws no 
man must investigate, although they may involve 
principles which have aroused the attention of the 
civilized world; and though the subject is urged on 
us by the providence of God; and an imperious sense 
of duty ? It is said these views are incendiary. And 
is this charge to be admitted without discussion, 
or proof? We deny it: and affirm that they are 
salutary and tend to safety and peace. And we 
stand ready to give the proof. 

It is said, we have no concern in the system. 
And is this the mere ipse dixit of an interested par- 


ty, or of a mob, to settle so grave a point without 
argument or dispute ? We deny it. It affects not 
only the community where it is; but the whole 
union and the civilized world: and it exposes the 
whole nation to the wrath of God. Even Jefferson, 
who was no fanatic, said: "I tremble for my 
country, when I remember that God is just." 

But it is said, you will produce excitement: what 
then ? Did not Christ produce excitement ? Did 
he not kindle a fire on earth ? The question is not, 
Will men be excited ? but, Have they any right to 

But it is said, you will outrage public sentiment. 
What then ? Did not Christ do the same ? What 
if public sentiment is wrong and opposed to God: 
are we to hold back the truth lest it be outraged ? 

The fact is, there is but one possible ground : 
adherence to God and the immutable principles of 
right. 'And if any man, or any community is of- 
fended at this, the fault is their own. This course 
is wisdom. This course is prudence. 

As to the main question, then, there is no doubt: 
we have the right to discuss this subject; the great 
movements of the age demand it; and wisdom and 
prudence enforce the command. 



It is equally obvious that to the manner in which 
the subject came up in this state, there is no just 
ground of objection. 

How did it come up ? Mildly and quietly, and 
after years of thought. I know it is fashionable to 
talk of the burning spirit of the abolitionists. And 
that some have indicated a wrong spirit I do not 
deny. But it is not true of the movement in this 
state as a whole, that it has ever exhibited any 
features except sober and serious thought, and can- 
did, fair and thorough discussion: and no steps of a 
public nature have ever been taken except after 
long and prayerful inquiry. And if any one affirms 
to the contrary I fearlessly challenge him for the 
proof. No such proof can be found, for there are 
no facts on which to base it. 

The first developments of mob violence, too, have 
not even a plausible pretext for their justification : 
and to palliate, connive at, or attempt to justify 
them, is treason against God and against man. 

Let us look at the facts of the case. A religious 
paper is established at St. Louis. Does its editor 
advocate the odious doctrines of the abolitionists ? 
No. Yet still he encounters the vengeance of the 
mob. Why ? Because he dared to remonstrate 
against the profanation of the Sabbath, and of his 
nation's flag for purposes of religious bigotry : 


Because he dared to remonstrate against the law- 
less proceedings of a mob, who burnt alive a fellow 
man, without trial, judge, or jury. Because he 
indignantly rebuked the anarchical doctrines of a 
lawless judge who declared the power of the mob 
to be above the power of the law. And because, 
though no abolitionist, he dared even to maintain 
that slavery was a great moral evil, and ought as 
soon as possible to be removed. 

He came to this state, his paper was re-establish- 
ed, and he at first supposed that he would not be 
called on to oppose slavery as he had, and so said, 
but made no pledge to be silent; nay, expressly 
stated that he would not be bound. 

At length, by the progress of his own mind, and 
of events, he is convinced that it is his duty to speak, 
and he does it. Again, many in the state wish to 
organize themselves into a society for discussion 
and for moral influence, and consult him. He for 
a time puts them off ; and at last, in compliance 
with their wishes, proposes the inquiry f Is it 
best so to organize ? and asks for the opinions of 

And here violence begins. He is first falsely ac- 
cused of violating a pledge, and then told that it is 
the will of a majority that he forbear to print. An 
editor of a neighboring city in a slave state applauds 
the spirit of the meeting, tells them that Mr. Love- 
joy " has forfeited all claims on that or any other 
community," exhorts them "to eject from among 
them that minister of mischief, the Observer, or to 
correct its course ;" and threatens them with the loss 


of trade unless they " put a stop to the efforts of 
these fanatics, or expel them from their community." 

In the meeting no charges are made of an impru- 
dent use of language, or of a bad spirit. The sim- 
ple head and front of his offending is, that he holds 
certain opinions which the majority of the commu- 
nity do not like; and which they proclaim to be 
subversive of the interests of the place ! 

And is a freeman to submit to such atrocious ty- 
ranny as this ? Are the rights of conscience noth- 
ing ? Is duty to God nothing ? Are sacred char- 
tered privileges nothing ? Is a foreign editor, with- 
out trial, judge or jury, to proclaim a citizen of our 
state an outlaw, to say that all the bonds which 
once bound him to civil society are dissolved, and 
to point him out to the mob as deserving of nothing 
but wrath, unless he will at their dictation resign the 
dearest rights of the human soul ? Is there no 
God ? Are there no immutable principles of right ? 
Is there no law, no justice, no fear of God ? Have 
we no ruler but the demon of anarchy; and no 
Lord but that bloody, thousand headed, murderous 
tyrant, the mob ? 

Had it been under Nero, Mr. Lovejoy might rea- 
sonably have fled. That bloody tyrant made no 
pretensions to reason, or to the fear of God. But 
has a Christian nation sunk so low that in the midst 
of laws, charters, and most sacred guaranties, made 
for the express purpose of defending the rights of 
speech; and to be maintained and administered by 
Christian men ; they will require a citizen, at the bid- 
ding of an infuriate mob, to sacrifice conscience, 


abandon every right, and seek for safety in inglori- 
ous flight ? And yet, because Mr. Lovejoy refused 
to do this he is stigmatized as stubborn, dogmatical, 
rash and imprudent: and we are gravely told that 
he deserves no sympathy; and that on him the guilt 
of those atrocious deeds must rest, which have in- 
fixed so indelible a stain on the American name f 

If indeed it is so, it is time for us to know it, and 
cease our boastings of freedom and equal rights. 
Even the inquisition itself was never guilty of deeds 
so atrocious. It gave to its miserable victims at 
least the forms of justice and a trial. Nor did it 
ever claim the power of rising superior to law. But 
in a Christian land even the show of justice is laid 
aside; and an innocent man, a man guilty of no 
crime or misdemeanor, a man who had done noth- 
ing to justify even the least excitement; is stripped 
at a blow of every right; all ties that bind him to 
the community are cut; and that solely because he 
will not bow the knee to the irresponsible censor- 
ship of a profligate mob. 

1 Had Mr. Lovejoy been intemperate in his use of 
language it would not have furnished the slightest 
excuse for such proceedings. But he was not. 
Even this poor pretext is wanting. At the time of 
the meeting it was not even claimed. I know it has 
since been got up by some eastern editors, who in 
all probability never read his paper. But it will not 
do. His exposition of views put forth to meet this 
crisis is marked by nothing so much as a calm, tem- 
perate, kind and dignified style. It indicates the 
spirit of a man unwilling to provoke, and anxious 


only to convince. And he even watched over his 
language on this subject with solicitous care. And 
I fearlessly say, that, from one article on slavery in 
the journal of the Colonization society, which I 
have now hi my eye, I can select more severity of 
language on the subject of slavery than from all 
Mr. Lovejoy ever wrote. 


Again: when we saw the evil coming on we did 
all in our power to unite good men, allay excite- 
ment, and restore law. 

It was my deep sense of the need of such an ef- 
fort, which induced me to give my name to the call. 
It was then my plan, not to press the formation of 
a state society at the expense of division and mobs, 
but as this was the original cause of the excitement 
for no man who has noticed facts can doubt it to 
concede this point, and demand only a kind, friend- 
ly, uncommitted discussion ; and a society of inqui- 
ry, if any organization was thought best. I urged 
on Br. Lovejoy and his friends, that from a regard 
to the public peace they would yield their private 
feelings and plans. And what was Br. Lovejoy's 
reply ? You will not find me obstinate. For union 
and peace, I will give up any thing but duty. And 
so said his friends. What more could they do? 

I then explained to a number of the leading citi- 



zens of Alton, the dangers of division among good 
men; and intreated them to unite, not in forming an 
anti-slavery society, but in a friendly discussion : 
and pointed out a way in which, without any com- 
mittal, they might modify the course of their breth- 
ren and avoid a mob. And when they approved 
these views I made the result public, and invited 
the friends of unity among the good, and of free in- 
quiry to attend the approaching meeting. And 
what more could be done ? 

Now in this very critical aspect of affairs; after 
one mob had taken place and when another was 
threatened, it did seem to me that it would be cruel 
in the extreme, directly or indirectly to add fuel to 
the fire which I was striving to quench. Public odi- 
um was already burning fearfully against a small 
and hated minority; and how could any one take 
this very hour to add fresh intensity to the flame ? 
Why not at least let the trial be made unimpeded 
by new accessions of odium and hostility. 

And now, although I am willing to acquit the 
leaders of the colonization society of all deliberate 
malignity of purpose; and though the majority of 
those who joined it, I am sure, did not anticipate its 
results; yet no charity requires me to forbear to 
narrate what was actually done, or to delineate its 

In the first place it seemed to be got up expressly 
to defeat the convention. 

In the second place it held out fully and promin- 
ently the idea that no plan of proceeding was ra- 
tional or safe, but the one proposed by itself. 


Again: it passed a resolution designed to operate 
directly against the convention about to be held, 
and adapted to render it odious, by insinuations and 
inuendoes; as if it were to be composed of men 
who were accustomed to use unchristian and abu- 
sive epithets against the slaveholding community, 
and to assume that they were the only friends of 
the slave or of his emancipation. 

Again: the same clergyman and editor, by whom 
this resolution was introduced, in his account of the 
meeting takes it for granted that the meeting of the 
colonization society has rendered abortive all the 
plans of the friends of the convention, and remarks 
concerning them, "Doubtless a very few restless 
spirits will be disappointed, vexed, mortified, and 
may struggle for a time to enjoy notoriety." Now 
all this as individuals we could easily bear. It is 
little to be called restless spirits; disappointed, vex- 
ed, mortified, and striving for a brief notoriety. 
Though even if we had been such, and had been 
defeated too, it is worthy neither of a man nor a 
Christian, much less of a minister of Christ, thus to 
exult over our anticipated fall. 

But in this light I do not view it. I regard not 
at all its influence on personal feeling; but its mani- 
fest tendencies at once to defeat all plans of concili- 
ation or union, and all efforts to allay excitement, 
or to tranquillize the public mind; and to arouse to 
new intensity the fury of the mob. 

Of whom was such language used ? Of men ob- 
stinate and perverse, despising union and intent 
solely on arousing and inflaming the public mind? 


No: but of men who had gone to the uttermost 
limit of concession, and whose only demand was 
that they should not be compelled to give up every 
plan without deliberation or discussion at the bid 
ding of a mob. Could not the editor of a religious 
paper, a professed minister of Christ, find any kinder 
language than this for such men ? And could he 
calmly devise measures and plans, the only ten- 
dency of which was to shut them out from the 
sympathy of the good and expose them to the fury 
of the mob ? And if such language ought ever to 
be used, was this the time and the place ? Well 
do I remember the emotions which filled my heart 
as first this language met my eye. It came at that 
very crisis when first I felt that it was fearfully 
probable that we were soon to be called to wrestle 
with the fury of a mob. And he who has never 
been called to pass through such a scene can never 
know what it is to be thus assailed in such an hour 
by a professed minister of his. Savior and his God. 

I am willing to make all. possible allowances. 
Nor will I say that these good men wished to excite a 
mob. -But I must say, that if they had wished it they 
could not have used means more adapted to produce 
the result. And if they did not see the direct ten- 
dency of measures like these, some strange delusion 
had blinded their eyes. 

At all events the results were sure. The majority 
of good men stood aloof, and left the convention a 
mark for its foes. What friends of free inquiry came 
in; the spirit they displayed, and the course which 
they pursued, we have seen. How all discussion was 


nipped in the bud; and how, when we retired to a 
private house to escape the storm, it pursued us 
still, we have also seen. And we have seen too, 
how this same editor, afterwards, gave such pro- 
ceedings no rebuke, but regarded them alike cred- 
itable to the place, and promotive of the general 


THE true spirit of intolerance now stood exposed. 
Events were so ordered by the providence of God 
as to strip off every disguise. It now became plain 
that all attempts to conciliate and to discuss were 
vain: and nothing remained but to resist or to 

I am aware that even pride or resentment might 
dictate resistance to such demands as were made on 
us; and had these been our motives the act had 
deserved no praise. But though sinful passions 
might prompt to such a course, their entire absence 
would not lead to the reverse. Indeed, the more 
we reflected on our duties to God and the truth, and 
the more we considered the principles involved, the 
more did we feel that we could not retreat. We 
felt that a crisis had come, and in Mr. Lovejoy's 
view there was but the alternative to conquer or 
to die. He had deliberately looked the matter 
through; and was willing either to triumph, should 


God permit, or to die; that the real nature of the 
malignant influences now at work might be fully 
disclosed, and the nation at last be aroused. And 
after solemn deliberation, and much consultation 
and prayer, he took his ground to remain. 

But it was of no use to remain without a press; 
and ruin to import presses and not defend them. 
For there was a moral certainty that presses to any 
number would be destroyed if no effort was made 
to protect them. And how could this be done ? 
Was it not by endeavoring to arouse the citizens to 
sustain the laws? Had all been aroused to the 
effort our end would have been at once secured. 
But all were not; a part were willing to act and a 
part were not. Still the law and civil power were 
not turned against us: Under 'them we could act. 

And the question was twofold. 1. Can we 
with this force maintain our ground ? 2. If we fail 
what will be the result ? As to the .first they 
thought they could. If not it would arouse the na- 
tion, and test the principles of the case. Now all 
that was done was the- carrying out of this plan: 
and if you find fault with 'the execution, you find 
fault with the plan. 

It is objected to on these grounds. 

1. That all defense of law by arms is wrong. 

2. That the defense was part of a system of ef- 
forts to propagate the truth: and was therefore pro- 
pagating the truth by carnal weapons. 

3. That a clergyman aided to make it. 

As to the first 1 can only say^ that so long as 
man is in the body, physical force must be used to 


secure moral results. God always has used it, and 
always will. And all physical laws causing death 
if they are violated are laws made by God: and 
sanctioned by the penalty of death to secure their 
observance. And it is the fear of this penalty that 
deters men- from their violation. That in the gospel 
he has authorized the maintenance of law by the 
sword, an instrument of death; and that no laws 
not sustained by this ultimate resort can have any 
binding power. 

Nor is it rendering " evil for evil" in the sense 
forbidden by Christ to punish with death the man 
who aims to prostrate human law, any more than it 
is rendering " evil for evil" for God to punish a sin- 
ner for violating the laws of the universe. Nor is 
it true that no punishments are right but those 
which seek the sinner's good. Does God punish sin- 
ners forever for their own good; or to " set them forth 
as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal 
fire," as he affirms. 

The main design of punishment obviously is to 
deter from transgression. The certainty of an ulti- 
mate appeal to force is all that gives law any ter- 
rors to the wicked. The good may be a law unto 
themselves; but as we are told by Paul, the law 
is not made for such, but for murderers and thieves 
and all who can be restrained by no higher motive 
than fear. In Alton all such fear had been nearly 
taken away. Had it been restored; had the con- 
viction been deeply fixed that the large mass of the 
community would sustain the law by force; a 
small band of wicked men would never have dar- 


ed to make the attack. It was the report of the 
committee, and the resolutions of the meeting of 
citizens which took this fear away and emboldened 
the wicked in their deeds of violence and blood. 

As to the fact that the defense was of a press 
a part of a system of means for diffusing truth it 
may be replied, that in all well organized Christian 
communities, this principle is involved: and all ar- 
guments against it are deduced from a considera- 
tion of expediency or duty under an entirely differ- 
ent state of society. For example: An itinerant 
missionary, like the apostles under the persecuting 
Roman power, might be under obligations not to 
use force, but to flee from city to city when perse- 
cuted. Force could do no good: it was hopeless 
against the power of an empire. But for a man so 
situated it was best to have no wife, nor house, nor 
printing press, nor any other ties 'to fasten him to 
any spot. Again: An itinerant in a nominally 
Christian community, yet a community thoroughly 
degraded and corrupt, and refusing to enforce law, 
might be under obligation to pursue the same 
course; because force would be useless; and he 
could do nothing but flee from place to place, and 
preach as he went. 

But suppose now a minister is settled in a regular, 
well organized Christian community, the vast ma- 
jority of which are decided friends of Christianity, 
and supporters of law. Now if fifty or a hundred 
men out of thousands, excited to rage by some un- 
wholesome truth, attempt to tear down his meeting 
house, is no resistance to be made ? Or, if his 


person is assailed; shall he seek no defense from law, 
but flee ? Or allow himself to be abused or slain ? 

Now suppose a body of men unite to disseminate 
the truth by means of missionaries, or bibles, or 
tracts; and erect buildings and buy presses. If 
these are assailed shall they not apply to the magis- 
trate and seek the protection of the law ? And, if 
needed, shall not force be used ? And yet these 
are parts of a system the direct end of which is 
to disseminate the truth. The fact is, that in the 
best states of society investments of capital in means 
of moral influence increase solely because they are 
protected by law; and when the law ceases to pro 
tect, or opposes them, they cease to exist. And if 
we lay down the principle that the means of exert- 
ing moral influence are not to be defended by force 
of arms, because they are devoted to the high pur- 
poses of disseminating the truth, where shall we 
land ? Stores and ships if used for making money 
may be protected; but if used for higher and nobler 
ends, not. And all presses, houses, churches, aca- 
demies, or schools, which are used for high moral 
and religious ends, must be given up to the fury of 
a mob. 

The fact is, the idea that defending the means of 
exerting moral influence, or the persons of those 
who use them, is making use of carnal weapons to 
propagate the truth, is an entire delusion. If it wer* 
so, then every minister in the land is propagating 
the truth by carnal weapons. Are not all ministers 
defended by the law ? And does not this rest ulti- 
mately on an appeal to force or arms if it is invaded. 


What matters it whether the necessity of using them 
occurs every day or not, if it is known that they 
will be used whenever needed ? The fact is, that 
protecting a man when he is preaching is not pro- 
pagating truth by carnal weapons: it only enables 
him to state the truth in safety. It compels no one 
to believe him. So, defending a press or an editor 
only enables him to print in safety: it compels no 
one to read, or to believe. Did we attempt to com- 
pel men to believe at the point of the bayonet, that 
would be using carnal weapons to propagate truth. 
But who has done this ? 

Now, that all printing presses are under the pro- 
tection of law, has been heretofore considered the 
settled order of things in this state. Hence it was 
not a duty to leave Alton until it was settled that 
this is not the fact there. And we resolved to do 
all in our power to prevent this result from being 
established. But, if we failed, we intended so to 
fail that the atrocity of such a state of things should 
be clearly seen. We did not mean to give room to 
the inhabitants of Alton thereafter, when writhing 
under the lashings of public sentiment for having 
driven away a free press, and smothered free dis- 
cussion, to say to us, "You have stained the charac- 
ter of the city by your premature flight: the threats 
of an insignificant band of ruffians frighted you: 
if you had staid we would have protected you." 
We did not mean to slip off, and go to another spot, 
and have the same scenes acted over. This would 
but have extended the sphere of corruption and en- 
listed more and more on the side of anarchy. The 


only true policy was to test the question there; and 
see if the law would give way; and if so, then to 
see if there is .in our land moral energy enough to 
react. We looked upon it as a test question for our 
whole land; and so indeed it was. Deadly influ- 
ences were at work; anarchical principles were eat- 
ing out the very life of the body politic; and yet the 
nation was asleep: and nothing but an earthquake 
shock could arouse her to life. 

Now granting the soundness of these views; 
and that they are sound who can deny ? what was, 
in few words, the great end of our enterprise ? It 
was either by victory to restore law to its power; 
or by death to disclose the astounding fact that, in 
one portion of our land the reign of law was over, 
and that of anarchy had begun. In full faith that 
God would use this event to arouse and to save the 
nation, slumbering on the brink of ruin, and thus 
produce the effect of which the National Intelligen- 
cer justly says: "It would be some consolation to 
humanity if we could safely count upon the effects 
thus anticipated, that the time had now come when 
the majesty of the laws is to be asserted; and when 
men may travel, speak and write in the United 
States, without coming under other surveillance than 
that legally provided;" we took our stand. 

Now if the result is, through the blessing of God, 
the final restoration of a sound public sentiment on 
the great scale, law will reign again, even in Alton; 
and no more force will b needed. According to 
these views a sound public sentiment in the major- 
ity is essential to make the exercise of force useful 


in restraining a vicious and disorderly minority. 
But when the majority is unsound, law can no lon- 
ger be sustained: and to use force on the small scale 
is vain, if in the body politic, as a whole, there is 
no restorative power. In such a case I would make 
no effort at defense; but after the example of the 
apostles flee before the storm. 

It was not, then, a contest for abolition, but for 
law and human society, against anarchy and mis- 
rule. Now if Br. Lovejoy was willing in such a 
contest to die; if with enlarged and far reaching 
views he had calculated all these results and that 
he had I well know was it recklessness, was it ob- 
stinacy, that urged him on, or a noble devotedness 
to the cause of God and man ? 

But he was a clergyman, it is said. So indeed 
he was. But he was a citizen none the less for that: 
and as a citizen he had rights and duties too. And 
is it, at this late day, to be laid down as a rule, that 
for doing his duty in defending his rights as a citi- 
2en he is to forfeit his character as a minister of 

But it is said, he died with murderous weapons 
in his hands, and with the blood of a fellow being 
on them. The whole is false. He died in defense 
of justice, and of the law, and of right : and with 
the instrument of justice in his hands. Is it so, in- 
deed ? When the ruler by the command of God 
bears the sword, has he a murderous weapon in his 
hand ? And if he executes a criminal, is the blood 
of a fellow creature on his hands ? Who are they 


that use such language as this ? The men who are 
in favor of chaplains on board of our ships of war, 
and in our armies. The men who eulogize Ash- 
mun, a clergyman too, who under the auspices of a 
benevolent society, gave orders to fire charge after 
charge of grape shot among dense masses of his 
fellow men. The men who eulogize with never 
ending paeans of praise the heroes of Bunker Hill, 
of Yorktown, of New Orleans. And is it said that 
these men acted in self-defense, and in defense of 
inalienable rights ? And did not Lovejoy, too ? Is 
it said, perhaps Ashmun did not fire the cannon him- 
self ? How much better is it to plan a battle and 
inspirit his soldiers to the contest than to fire him- 
self ? Do not all lawyers know that " quifacit per 
alium,facit per se ?" And how much better was 
it for clergymen in sermons and prayers, and by 
their presence, to urge our fathers on than to fight 
themselves ? In point of morality there is not a shade 
of difference, and all know there is none in law. 

There are men among us who are consistent. 
Men at whose heresies the very persons who use 
this cant have been sorely alarmed. Men who are 
stigmatized as "peace men" and "no human gov- 
ernment men." At the heresies of such they have 
filled the land with clamor. And what now ? Have 
they come over to their opinions, after all this out- 
cry ? Then why not strike their colors ? Why 
keep on fighting ? At one hour they stigmatize 
their views as false and pernicious; and the very 
next what do we see ? There are men, who dis- 
card all these heresies, and maintain that human 

M 2 


governments ought to exist, and to be defended by 
the sword; and maintain the rights of self-defense j 
and they actually go so far as to reduce their prin- 
ciples to practice: and all at once, smit with pious 
horror, they start back at the tragedy, and talk of 
murderous weapons and the blood of a fellow man! 
Consistent men ! Well may we say of such, " where 
unto shall I liken the men of this generation?" ""* 
The fact is, that the prejudices of some against 
certain opinions are so inveterate as to blind them 
even to the simplest truths. And such is their zeal 
to censure the defenders of a hated cause, that they 
pour upon them volley after volley, as if utterly un- 
conscious that to reach them they must first batter 
down every intrenchment of their own. 


BUT it is said the majority of the citizens of Alton 
did not wish the'press locUted there. What then? Have 
a majority a right to drive out a minority if they 
happen in the exercise of inalienable rights to do 
what they do not like : and if they will not go, 
murder them? And is it every editor's duty to 
give up all his civil rights at the voice of the ma- 
jority, and flee ? 

But this is not all. It is not a mere question of 
an editor's rights. All parties in the state have a 
right to the advantages of prominent commercial 


points. If any place is in a center of communica- 
tion, like Alton, it is the best location for a pape?: 
and any set of men in the state have a right, if they 
wish, to establish a paper there. Had it been a 
political paper in which citizens all over the state 
were interested, what would have been said of an 
effort to drive it away because the majority of Al- 
ton were opposed to its views ? 

But it is said " that it was injurious to the inter- 
ests of the place to have it there. This allegation is 
both false and absurd. If its views were false it 
was easy to answer them; but if true, can it be in- 
jurious to know the truth ? It is said, it would 
injure the character and trade of the place. Is it 
then injurious to any place to be known as the de- 
cided friend of free inquiry and the fearless protec- 
tor of the rights of speech ? Even if it had caused 
a loss of dollars and cents; is money the chief good 
and the loss of it the greatest of all evils ? Is not an 
elevated character for morality, intelligence, good 
order and religion worth more than untold sums of 
silver and gold ? But how delusive the idea that 
such a character could injure the commercial inter- 
ests of Alton. No! it was because I loved Alton, 
and could not bear to see her fair fame blasted that 
I exerted myself to secure the restoration of law to 
the last. To have left Alton at the bidding of a 
mob could never have restored her lost character. 
This nothing but the entire restoration and inflex- 
ible maintenance of the law could do. 

But it is said, your efforts only made the matter 
worse. So, too, the efforts of Christ did but make 


the last state of the Jews worse than the first: but 
general principles and a regard to the great whole 
urged him on. So, too, we felt that it was a ques- 
tion of principles; and the voice of the nation was 
with us, and a regard to the general good urged us 
on. Besides : who could know that our efforts 
would be vain ? We believed, and on what seemed 
to us satisfactory grounds, that they would not 
be vain. Moreover such a thing had never hap- 
pened in our nation, as an entire prostration of 
the right of free discussion by a mob: and we did 
not, and could not believe that it would take place 
there. We acted according to the evidence we had; 
and who could demand any thing more. Duties are 
ours results belong to God. 

On whom then does the guilt of these transac- 
tions fall ? First, on the guilty agents: and next, on 
all who excited, instigated or countenanced them in 
their deeds. All who have aided to stigmatize with 
unjust reproach an innocent, meritorious and suffer- 
ing portion of their fellow citizens. Profligate edi- 
tors, at the east and at the west, have a large ac- 
count to render to God for these bloody deeds. All 
professedly religious men who have by rendering 
their fellow citizens odious in the eyes of an infuri- 
ated mob, stimulated their hatred and urged them 
on. All who have refused to fear God more than 
man; and who, through fear of popular odium, 
have failed to oppose and rebuke the workers of 
iniquity. All who have allowed their prejudices 
against unpopular sentiments to render them trait- 


orous to the great principles of human society and 
to the holy cause of God. 

Who these are I shall not now particularize. I 
refer to the simple record of the past and leave it to 
a candid public to judge. 


So much has seemed due to the cause of truth, 
and to the character of those who endeavored to 
maintain the cause of freedom against the violence 
of the mob. But a more particular tribute is due 
to him who has sealed with his blood his testimo- 
ny to this sacred cause. To give an extended anal- 
ysis of his character is not my design. That work 
is already assigned to other hands. My purpose is 
simply to state such facts as I know, and as have a 
particular relation to his connection with the cause 
for which he died. A letter from one who has 
been supposed to be an intimate friend of the fam- 
ily, and who was, in fact, a brother minister, has 
caused me deep regret. The supposition that the 
author was intimately acquainted with Mr. Love- 
joy is entirely incorrect. He had been but a short 
.time a resident at Alton, and his intercourse with 
Mr. Lovejoy very limited. I was at Alton nearly the 
whole time during which he had any opportunity to 
see him and spent a large portion of my time at hi? 
house. And I can truly say that the statements of 


his letter are entirely unlike any thing I ever saw 
in Br. Lovejoy, then or at any other time.* ; 

That he was a man of strong feelings I know, 
but I never saw him when he did not have them 
under complete control. And I have known him 
intimately in the scenes of his deepest trial. I 
saw him during his troubles in St. Louis; and 
spent some days in his family. And during his 
persecutions in this state I have been with him in 
circumstances which put every grace of the Chris- 
tian character to the proof. And the uniform re- 
sult has been that his trials have but rendered his 
Christian spirit the more apparent. Never did I 
hear him, even in his most unguarded hours utter 
an angry, an impatient, a vindictive word. And 
if, as some have said, this was his natural temper, 
never have 1 seen such a temper so thoroughly 
chastened and controlled by the spirit of God. I 
have argued with him for hours and heard him ar- 
gue with others on subjects in which he felt deep 
and intense interest; and yet I never knew him to 
lose the mastery of his spirit. All was kind and calm. 
Indeed from the time of the commencement of his 
trials at St. Louis until his death, he seemed to 
take a new stand as a devoted and spiritual Chris- 
tian; and daily to grow in grace and in the know- 
ledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Espe- 
cially was this true towards the close of his life . 

* Since the above was written, the writer of that letter has sponta- 
neously given to the public an explanation which at once exonerates 
himself from all just censure, and destroys the foundation on whicn 
certain editors have erected their batteries against the reputation of Mr. 


During the days which he spent at my house a few 
weeks before his death, we were all struck with his 
uncommonly mild, gentle, tender and lovely frame 
of mind. In the deliberations held at that time 
the same traits strikingly appeared. 

He has been charged with obstinacy. That he 
was firm I grant; but it was the firmness of princi- 
ple and not of passion or of will. I have had occa- 
sion to try to modify his plans; and never did I find 
a man more open to conviction or influence. He 
truly and ardently loved the cause of God, and de- 
sired the unity of his people; and ah 1 appeals derived 
from this quarter found in his mind a ready response. 
By such appeals his whole soul was swayed. But 
that he was not easily moved by motives of a lower 
order to deviate from the decisions of duty I readily 
admit. He was a single hearted man. He lived 
solely for God and the public good. And hence 
that which is terrific to groveling minds had no 
power over his. He did not live for honor or for 
gold, nor for the pleasures of life. Hence he re- 
garded without fear the threats of shame and loss 
and death, with which his enemies sought to shake 
the purpose of his soul. 

Such loftiness of character they could not under- 
stand: to them it was dogged stubbornness. But 
he was content to walk in the steps of him " who 
for the joy set before him, endured the cross, de- 
spising the shame, and is now set down at the right 
hand of the throne of God." 

His social affections were strong and tender. 


Never did I know a man who had so keen a relish 
for the joys of home. His inexpressible love for 
his son, now an orphan, I shall never forget. It 
seemed to open a channel for the full tide of a 
father's emotions, quickened perhaps even then by 
the thought that soon he might be deprived of a 
father's care. 

His intellectual character is best learned from his 
works. As a writer he was clear, vigorous and pre- 
cise in the maintenance of the great principles of 
right: and in the exposure of error or the rebuke 
of vice he spoke with tremendous power. Whilst 
a political editor in Missouri he had no superior; 
and even his enemies paid an involuntary tribute to 
his intellectual power. 

His mind whilst editor of the Observer, as has 
already been remarked, passed through a revolution 
of sentiment on a great moral question, and this, of 
necessity caused the subject to become one of in- 
tense interest to him. How could it be otherwise ? 
especially as he was made to pay the penalty for 
daring to think as a man and a Christian, every step 
that he took. But his mind was not the subject of 
morbid excitement. He did not lose his interest in 
all other truth; though, as was natural, he laid out 
the largest share of his energy where most needed. 

In speech and in writing he was perfectly frank. 
He used no concealment or reserve. In certain 
states of society, or certain employments this would 
be recognized by all as an excellency. But he was 
a moral censor and a reprover of vice. Hence it 
caused him to be feared. And yet he never spoke 


in malice or revenge. Whatever he saw or felt he 
saw clearly and felt deeply and uttered freely, fully 
and without reserve. Nor did he always see how 
deep his words would cut, nor all the points they 
would strike. 

If this is an intellectual defect it was not caused 
by a malignant heart, nor is it the defect of a nar- 
row soul. It is rather the overaction of that full- 
ness of a generous soul the power of whose emo- 
tions is such as to bear it away: nor can we be sur- 
prised if energy so great as his was not always 
regulated with the calm reserve of an unimpassion- 
ed soul. 


But to decide on the guilt or innocence of the ac- 
tors in this scene is of small moment, unless we 
can discover the bitter root from whence these evils 
sprung. By some this is supposed to be a deep 
and rapidly increasing national degeneracy; an in- 
creased disproportion between the sound and un- 
sound elements in the body politic. 

That our nation contains within itself a fearful 
amount of corruption cannot be denied. But that 
there is any such recent and disproportionate in- 
crease of it as to account for the frequent occur- 
rence of such riots as have of late disgraced us in 
the eyes of the world I cannot believe. The true 


reason, as it seems to me, is this; a division among 
good men on a question adapted to test the power 
of our institutions to the uttermost. It is not be- 
cause our institutions have not great power power 
enough to resist almost any common assault. But 
the power by which they are now assailed is no 
common power. It is one of fearful and tremen- 
dous energy. And as if this were not enough, at 
the very hour when the united energies of all their 
friends are needed to sustain them; there is a por- 
tentous division among the best portions of the 
community. Those who on all great moral ques- 
tions have been wont to stand shoulder to shoulder 
are now found in opposing ranks, and good men 
speak of good men with a bitterness and contempt 
that tends to ruin their influence and utterly to neu- 
tralize their moral power over the intellect and con- 
science of the community. Let us look at the facts 
of the case. 

The convictions of our community as it regards 
the right of free inquiry are deep and general. In 
nothing as a nation have we gloried more. And it 
would have seemed an utter impossibility a few 
years ago, that any one, even the most degraded, 
should think of calling in question this right. And 
had any foreigner hinted that the time would come 
when, in any part of this nation, a great moral 
question could not be fearlessly discussed, much 
more that the free range of the intellect was to be 
limited and the tongue to be palsied by the terrors 
of death, he would have been spurned from our 


shores as a base slanderer of " the land of the free 
and the home of the brave." 

Alas, it is now no dream of the imagination: it 
is no slander of a foreign tongue. It is but too 
faithful a record of the present and the past, chron- 
icled on the undying scroll of history in letters of 
crimson gore. The voice of blood that goes up 
to heaven from the grave of the murdered Lovejoy, 
the united clamors of a guilty nation can never 
drown. Like the thunder of the Almighty it 
arouses the nations, and proclaims our infamy from 
shore to shore. 

And how has a reverse so astounding taken 
place in so short a time? Listen: the record is 
brief and simple. 

In the very foundation of our nation, an element 
was allowed to remain that will not endure free 
discussion. And the enlightened public sentiment 
of the world, under the guidance of the spirit of God, 
is calling on the nation to look this matter directly 
in the face : to view the system in the light of eter- 
nal and immutable truth, and all that will not en- 
dure this scrutiny at once to remove. It demands 
nothing but the right fully to discuss the subject, 
and to present the only true, philosophical, efficient 
and safe remedy for the evil. The object is not to 
compel but to convince. Not to interfere with the 
legal rights of any one; but to induce those who 
have the power of legislation to use it aright. 

Now though this requisition comes in collision 
with interest, passion and prejudice of incalculable 
strength ; yet, so deep is the conviction of our 


nation of the sacredness of the rights of free inquiry, 
so deeply is this feeling rooted in the elements of 
her existence, that if the intelligent and the good 
were but firmly united in their purpose to maintain 
the right, no power on earth could overthrow it. 
And even now, if it is overthrown it will be in the 
midst of tremendous convulsions and agonies and 
waitings of despair, as when a nation dies. 

But alas for our nation, at the very hour when 
this discussion arose a cloud of error and prejudice, 
deep and dense, had settled on the land. The 
eyes of the good were turned entirely away from 
those simple principles of truth on which alone the 
peaceful remedy of the evil depends, to visionary 
schemes of remedy which guide to bewilder and 
lead to betray. And when the true principles were 
proclaimed they came not from the leading heads 
of influence in the land; and were attended with 
errors or defects of spirit. And the Christian com- 
munity instead of receiving the truth on its own 
evidence, and endeavoring by a kind influence to 
remove the errors or imperfections; to a very great 
extent treated the whole with ridicule, bitterness 
and scorn. 

If it is said that violent attacks were made by 
them on a leading benevolent society; I reply, it 
was not until leading members of that society had 
bitterly attacked them; and the war, even if censur- 
able in spirit, was but a war of self-defense. They 
found themselves and all their plans assailed by a 
society embodying a large portion of the wealth 
and intellect of the Christian community. More- 


over, the obligations to magnanimity, generosity 
and self-control always rest with greater force on a 
majority than on a small minority. And if they re- 
garded this minority as weak, deluded and fanatical 
men, still, they were as a body, simple hearted 
Christians, aiming in their own judgment at an ob- 
ject of infinite moment: and scorn and contempt 
had no tendencies to enlighten their minds or en- 
large their views. If this vast majority were strong, 
they ought surely to have borne with the infirmities 
of the weak; and not to please themselves. 

But what shall we say, if it shall turn out to be 
the fact that these despised men were in possession 
of the truth; and that it was in the main, zeal for 
important truth, clearly seen and deeply felt, that 
urged them on ? Even this is no apology for a 
bad spirit, wherever or whenever shown. But if it 
is true, that there was bad spirit on both sides, and 
the only difference is this, that on one side was zeal 
for the truth, marred indeed by imperfections; and 
on the other side an equally defective zeal against 
the truth; on which side does the balance of merit 

This is said on the supposition that the spirit of 
each side was equally censurable. But when I re- 
member how much has been set down as said in a 
bad spirit, simply because it was an energetic dec- 
laration of truth in advance of the blinded minds 
of the hearers; and which for that reason seemed 
to them the ravings of fanaticism, though a purer 
age will pronounce it the simple truth, even as we 
all, now, admit that the slave-trade is piracy, though 
N 2 


when first attacked it was deemed the highest of 
fanaticism to say so when I remember this, 1 am 
constrained to say that many of the leading oppo- 
nents of the abolitionists have manifested more of 
a bad spirit than those whom they have opposed; 
and in circumstances admitting far less excuse. It 
has been indeed of a different kind, and far less li- 
able to attract the notice and incur the censure of a 
degenerate age. It has been the lofty, refined and 
contemptuous bad spirit of the majority of the educa- 
ted, intelligent, wealthy and Christian community, 
who scarcely deemed the fanatical minority whom 
they despised, as worthy of notice, except in some 
exquisitely polished sneer. 

But the withering influence of such a public sen- 
timent on its hapless victims who does not know ? 
If its power were equal to its malignity it would 
scathe them like the lightning of heaven. No ele- 
ment of fanaticism is so pungent as this. There is 
more, condensed venom in a few words of refined 
and pointed scorn, uttered by some intelligent states- 
man or divine, than in whole volumes of vulgar 
abuse. Nothing is so malignant in its influence: 
nothing so hard to elude or to resist. 

Now, when all this withering influence is direct- 
ed against a class of men whom a corrupt portion 
of the community are predisposed to. regard with 
deadly hatred merely as pious men; and against 
whom the odium of a work of reform which touch- 
ed the very vitals of the nation, was rolling deep 
and strong; what earthly power can withstand the 
shock ? 


No laws, no charters, no constitutions, no sacred 
guaranties of rights can long withstand an attack so 
tremendous. On no point were the feelings of our 
nation so deep, so undivided, as on the sacred right 
of a free press. It was regarded, and that justly, 
too, as the vital and essential principle of our na- 
tion's life : the very heart from which the bounding 
tides of a nation's life blood flow. But against this 
has the attack been made : and though with death- 
like struggles on the part of its brave defenders, the 
enemies of liberty have won the day. The citadel 
of freedom has been stormed; the palladium of a 
nation's safety seized and destroyed; and the blood 
of one of its noblest defenders poured upon the 
ground whilst the fiends of hell held high carni- 
val around the gory altar of the demon of misrule. 
And could this guilty triumph have been gained 
had it not been for the divisions among the good ? 
No, never. Had they been united, they had a van- 
tage ground in the deep feelings of a nation's heart 
from which no earthly power could have driven 
them: and it was not until they divided and turned 
their hands against each other that the mournful 
consummation could be achieved. 

It is not because there is less moral power in Al- 
ton than in any other place in this state, that it has 
become the theatre of a tragedy so bloody. In 
truth, there was no place within the state which for 
its moral worth was more highly regarded: and this 
opinion was just. And had the good remained 
united, this tragedy had never occurred. There 
was moral power enough hi Alton, twice told, to 


have repressed all outbreaking violence of any 
mob, had it but been united. But in a large por- 
tion of intelligent men, and even professed Chris- 
tians, there was a bitterness against those who were 
already the objects of popular odium, which they 
took no pains to conceal. Yea, many of them took 
special pains to make it known. And the full 
power of this feeling I had occasion to know. 
From the moment that insinuations and charges 
tending to fill the public mind with suspicion and 
odium were proclaimed abroad by ministers and 
leading men, all efforts to maintain our rights were 
vain. The wicked felt that there was no power to 
restrain them; and the tide of violence became deep 
and strong. 

Nor was it from Alton alone that this deadly 
influence of good men originated. Alton did but 
sympathise with a more extended circle of feeling 
in all parts of our land; and though I would by no 
means apologize for the sins of any of our citizens ; 
I will say, that the result at Alton was but the de- 
velopment of influences which set in upon her like 
a tide from every portion of our land. And if God 
shall put the cup of his wrath into the hand of every 
man who deserves to drink it, what multitudes will 
be found in every portion of our land who may not 
escape a fearful retribution ! 



The essential criminality of that division from 
which such results flow; and of the feelings of con- 
tempt, prejudice, or hostility which it has produced j 
may still more clearly be evinced by its power in 
blinding the mind to the great principles of truth as 
involved in the right of free inquiry, and the duty 
of maintaining the laws at all hazards. Who in a 
truly Christian and benevolent state of mind could 
ever have promulgated such miserable subterfuges 
to evade the claims of their fellow citizens to the 
rights of speech and of protection by law, as have 
lately been put forth to the amazement of all re- 
jecting men ? That the right to speak or print is 
not to be exercised in any case where it would out- 
rage the feelings of the community. As if the will 
of a majority were the criterion of right and wrong: 
or, as if in no case duty to God could require any 
man to go against the will or feelings of a sinful 

So, too, we are told that the men who give occa- 
sion to mobs are as much to be dreaded as those 
who make them: as if it were an assumed principle 
that no one in doing the will of God could ever give 
occasion to a mob. 

Is it not amazing that the promulgators of such 
sentiments do not remember that they only embol- 
den the wicked to make mobs ? All know that 
when the wicked outrage the moral feelings of the 


good ever so grossly, it makes no mobs. Atheism, 
infidelity and lewdness may go out with unblushing 
front to corrupt the community; and no mob is rais- 
ed against them: for good men have too much con- 
science to raise mobs. But the moment a good man 
attempts an unpopular reformation of gross abuses 
he is mobbed : and a large circle of Christians say, 
the mob is wrong to be sure, but he deserves no 
sympathy, he was so rash and imprudent. 

And is it the prevailing error of good men to op- 
pose evil too boldly; and continually to outrage the 
sinful feelings of an evil world ? And is it true 
that if Christians were united the imprudences of 
the few who are over-zealous could do so much to 
excite mobs and prostrate law that they could not 
easily control its influence ? And can any thing 
render mobs so sure as for a large portion of pro- 
fessed Christians to censure a zealous minority of re- 
formers as the guilty causes of mobs, in the pres- 
ence of those who are wishing some pretext for 
wreaking their vengeance on them ? The truth is, 
if good men were united no imprudences of a small 
portion of their number could raise a mob. It is 
only when they throw their influence against the 
protection of that small number, and by the exhibi- 
tion of their own feelings, give intensity to those of 
the mob, that all the barriers of the law give way. 
What can be expected but ruin when one portion 
of good men are so deeply prejudiced against an- 
other as. to feel that however great a calam ty it is 
to have law give way, it is a deeper calamity to 
maintain it, if it involves the protection of their 


rights ? Yet this is the solution of many a rnob. 
It is the solution of the mob at Alton. 

And what but a wicked state of feeling can give 
rise to blindness so amazing ? Did a sense of the 
presence of God, and holy communion with him 
ever give rise to such miserable and sophistical de- 
lusions ? No. God is the God of law, of justice, 
and of order. And in his sight no crime is so hein- 
ous as to attempt or connive at the radical prostra- 
tion of law and right. He who stands by the body 
of a murdered father, will never alleviate the guilt 
of the assassin who shed his blood, by a lisp of a 
few unguarded words which provoked the deed. But 
in the eye of God when the law is prostrated, a na- 
tion is slain : and he who aims an impious hand at 
the sacred rights of a fellow man, strikes a blow not 
merely at him, but at his country's heart. And 
were not the mind deadened by unholy alienation 
of feeling, and the vision dimmed by the films of 
sinful prejudice, the atrocity of the deed would leave 
no room for any feelings but those of indignation, 
nor for any words but those of rebuke. 

I repeat it, therefore, that the prostration of law 
is owing wholly to divisions among good men. And 
if its power is finally and forever lost, and if a del- 
uge of anarchy and blood shall desolate our land, 
it will be a part of the mournful record of the his- 
toric page, that, not the abandoned or profane, not 
the vile and polluted, but the wise and the good, de- 
luded and deceived by Satan, threw open the flood- 
gates and let the dreadful deluge in. 

And shall a consummation so terrific ingloriously 


close our brief career? Shall we as a nation sub- 
serve no higher end than to stand forth as a beacon 
and a warning to the nations of the earth, as the 
smoke of our torment, and the voice of our wailings 
go up together ? 

If not, the voice of God must be heard. In tones 
of thunder He speaks from the silence of the 
grave ! And if this event cannot rouse us to 
thought, nothing can. We are gone. 

What then shall be done ? Good men must 
unite, not on policy or on compromise, but on the 
truth. All prejudice, all passion must be laid aside; 
and under the sacred guidance of the spirit of God, 
we must dig down to the deep and immutable foun- 
dations of eternal truth. Nothing else accords with 
the age of the world in which we live, or with the 
revealed purposes of Almighty God. 

The principles of individual rights, such as grow 
out of the nature of the human mind are as immu- 
table and eternal as the throne of God; and to be 
united, all Christians must adopt them. He who 
sees these principles knows their truth; and he can- 
not divide from God and the truth to unite with 
those who see them not. No. The only basis of 
lasting union is the truth ; and if any refuse to ad- 
mit the truth and to coincide with God, the guilt of 
the division must rest on them. 

It is vain here to say, that this age of the world 
needs nothing but the preaching of the gospel. 
Most fully do I admit that nothing is needed but 
fully to unfold the principles of the gospel, and to 
apply them to every department of life. But the great 


question of the age is: What do the principles of 
Christianity say on this subject ? Do they tolerate 
slavery; or cut it up root and branch ? Indeed, un- 
til this question is decided no man can tell what the 
gospel is. If, indeed, the gospel authorizes, or does 
not condemn, and call for the immediate abandon- 
ment of a system, which fundamentally subverts 
every principle of right, the infidel wishes to know 
it; for he need ask no better reason to scorn its pre- 
tensions to be a message from God. But if it re- 
bukes this with divine authority, as it does all other 
sins, and requires its immediate abandonment, then 
it is time for the church to know it, and fully to de- 
clare all the counsel of God. 

I do not ask for unholy excitement or misguided 
zeal. I ask for that fear of God which shall sus- 
pend all other fear; and that holy courage and 
coolness and clearness of thought which nothing but 
his spirit can give. I ask for no needlessly irrita- 
ting language, or unkind denunciations: but for 
that holy, kind and free inquiry, and candid com- 
parison of views, which would take place if we 
were to stand together before the throne of God and 
under the influence of mutual love. 

It is the horror of this age that on a subject so 
vast, there are those who will not inquire at all; 
and threaten with odium or death all who will. It 
is happy for the world that they cannot intimidate 
or silence the Almighty. Vain men ! What do 
they hope for; at what do they aim ? can they 
arrest the current of the universe ? Can they con- 
tend with the eternal God ? 


It is time for those who desire not to be crushed 
by the movements of God, to arouse themselves to 
prayer and thought. The individual right of free 
inquiry and speech is his great instrument for reno- 
vating the world. Governments are designed main- 
ly to defend individual rights, and the power of the 
magistrate is given him by God; and as God's min- 
ister it is his duty to act in maintaining law. And 
the horrid doctrine which gives to a mere numerical 
majority, the power against law to trample on indi- 
vidual right, is high handed rebellion against God. 

It is high time that all delusion on this subject 
should cease : and that the right of free discussion 
should be seen in a higher and holier light than as a 
mere personal privilege. It is the demand of God 
that man shall be left free to hear his voice and obey 
his will : and he who attempts to stand between 
the soul of any man and his Maker, must expect to 
incur the wrath of God. God insists upon it that 
no individual, or community, or law shall obstruct 
the passage of his messages from man to man. 

It is the deep feeling of this truth which is the 
source of all the true freedom which this world ever 
saw or enjoyed. All true freedom came through 
holy men and by such it must be preserved. In our 
land through the love of fame, or power, or money, 
the native energy of the principle is dying away, 
and a corrupt and tyrannical public sentiment is 
making us slaves. The people of God need a fresh 
baptism from on high. They need to kindle again 
the holy flame of freedom at the altar of God. 

The exigency calls for no unholy spirit of defi- 


ance, no resentment for injuries and wrongs, and no 
spirit of revenge over the grave of the dead. The 
spirit of Lovejoy was that of forgiving love, and 
let no other be kindled at his grave. Let no resent- 
ment embitter the nation : let all be kind and ten- 
der and gentle, and ready to forgive. But let the 
strength of holy purpose become daily more intense 
for God and for the right to know, to proclaim, and 
to do his will : for this to live, and for this, if need 
be, to die. 

I am sure that if good men would thus come 
near to God, they could not long remain divided 
from each other. Prejudices would be renounced, 
concessions and confessions be made; and that not 
merely on one side but by all. Nor would the ques- 
tion be who should concede most, for each would 
be willing to concede all that is wrong in himself, 
and to acknowledge all that is right in others. If 
thus united our liberties are sure, our nation is safe. 
We can ask nothing better than our own institutions 
if they can be maintained in their true spirit, and 
used for their true ends, in the fear of God. 

And that we shall be able to do it I do not des- 
pair. There is intelligence and conscience, and re- 
ligion enough to save our nation, if they can be 
brought into action with united power. And I 
confide in God that it will at last be done : that one 
warning so dreadful will be enough : and that by 
timely repentance we shall escape the impend ing 
judgments of God.